#12NTCJews Talk Networks and Nonprofits

This post is cross posted from Deborah Fishman’s blog, HaChavaya.

I must admit that I don’t go to very many conferences that aren’t “Jewish.” But last week I was excited to attend the Nonprofit Technology Conference of NTEN (#12NTC). I went to speak at a session in collaboration with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, and Darim Online, on networks, technology, and their application to non-profits – and yes, we were speaking about it particularly in a Jewish context. The truth is, with the attendance of over 70 non-profit professionals who are Jewish and/or working for Jewish nonprofits, this session and the social hour that followed had as much as or even more of the usual dose of Jewish geography, schmoozing/networking, and certainly the spirit of Jewish pride.

Why Jewish pride? The focus on how Jewish organizations are making an impact in this realm was impressive to many – especially those who don’t usually equate Jewish organizations as being at or even near the forefront of the technological cutting-edge. I give a lot of credit to the session sponsors, in particular Lisa Colton, the session facilitator, for recognizing the need to demonstrate how Jewish organizations are thinking about technology and networks, even fostering that energy beyond the session by using the hashtag #12ntcJews for the conference’s duration.

I don’t mean to say that the session insinuated that Jewish non-profits have all the answers when it comes to technology and networks. On the contrary, the timbre was very much expressing how we are all on a journey as we struggle with the issues 21st-century ways of communication pose to how we think and how we work. Actually, that was exactly what was so impressive – because in today’s interconnected, networked world, it’s not about the one-sided execution of perfection, but rather about engaging in a dialogue, asking the right questions, and reacting to that dialogue through constant experimentation. That sense of authenticity and candor about our work is so important to everything technology and networks represent.

The value placed on dialogue was evident in the diverse voices of the panel, featuring Josh Miller, Miriam Brosseau, David Cygielman, Lisa Colton and myself. The opportunity to learn from and share a podium with Jewish professionals making an impact in the realm of working in a networked way – as well as to hear comments and reactions from the audience members also engaging with these issues – was truly amazing. It sparked in me the sense that Jewish organizations have a lot to learn, not only from the scintillating conference attendees and presenters in nonprofit technology that surrounded us at NTC, but also specifically from each other. There are unique challenges and opportunities to working within the Jewish community, and we all are better positioned to take them on when we work together.

As part of my talk, I spoke about the need for a training program and community of practice for Jewish network-weavers, those in Jewish organizations working with networks to engage constituencies and foster connections and the sharing of resources and ideas between them. I believe this is very much needed in the Jewish world, especially as so many of us are already are on journeys to implement networked practice in our work.

Exemplifying these journeys, Miriam Brosseau and I spoke about our work with The Jewish Education Project and The AVI CHAI Foundation, respectively – both established organizations that are pivoting and really transforming themselves for the digital age. Miriam talked about how The Jewish Education Project is seeking not only to work with networks externally, but how they have realized that in order to do so they must also operate in a networked way internally, and they have created a community of practice to address this. She even brought in a Jewish concept – the idea of tocho k’varo, that just as the mishkan was required to be gold inside as well as outside, so too should we be the same internally and externally in order to be truly whole and authentic.

I spoke about AVI CHAI’s “communications revolution,” from top-down, one-way communication about our work to understanding that, in order for AVI CHAI to leave a legacy on the issues we care about, we must create dialogue and engage others in these issues. We are doing this through initiatives like ELI talks: Inspired Jewish Ideas ss well as grassroots brainstorms to generate creative ideas as to what would make day schools a more attractive option for parents not previously considering it.

In addition, Josh Miller from the Jim Joseph Foundation spoke about the foundation’s forays in working with networks, such as its investments in and lessons learned from the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund. David Cygielman from Moishe House exemplified an emerging organization that started from the beginning as a grassroots effort and continues to work in a networked way. Interestingly, being “native” to this mode of operation has not freed it entirely from network dilemmas. These have included how to incorporate technology as it scales and how to navigate the need to maintain a consistent level of Jewish educational content in its programming while remaining powered by grassroots needs and interests.

All of this, by the way, happened in my 12 hours in San Francisco. Why just 12 hours? It was actually a lot to spare on the day that my husband moved my family to a new apartment in a new city and two days before Pesach, over which we hosted two seders there. Why did I go at all? That’s just how passionate I am about this topic of networks, Jewish organizations, and technology. I am excited to be a part and witness the development of the emerging field of Jewish networks, and know it will lead us to be ever more effective and connected in the future.

Deborah Fishman is Director of Communications at The AVI CHAI Foundation, where she explores how network-weaving can be implemented to engage and inspire constituents to be more effective and connected. She dreams of implementing a network-weavers’ training program and community of practice to professionalize the field.

Lisa Colton Named a Top #JewishInfluencer

jewishinflThe National Jewish Outreach Program tonight announced the recipients of the first “Jewish Treats: Jewish Influencer Awards” during the organization’s 18th annual dinner. I am completely honored to be named among them, and am humbled by the excellent company on the list (more on that below). The announcement was listed as part of Social Media Week (SMW12) which kicked off earlier in the day. Finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges and evaluated based on creative and strategic use of social media to positively impact the Jewish community. “We launched @JewishTweets in March 2008 and from the outset, embraced it for the way it allows us to connect with people everywhere. It has allowed us not only to be heard, but to listen and be inspired by others every day,” said Ephraim Z. Buchwald, founder and director of the National Jewish Outreach Program. “In particular, we wanted to take time to recognize some of those who are leveraging the power of social media to raise Jewish social consciousness and shine a positive light on Jewish life." I appreciate that this list includes so many different types of people — entrepreneurs, community organizers, educators, consultants, institutional folk and very non-institutional folk. Just goes to show you that there’s no right or wrong way to tweet – just be yourself, help others, add value, and have fun. And as Allison Fine says, "social media a contact sport, not a spectator sport." So get in the game. Rabbi Yonah Bookstein @RabbiYonah Rabbi Yonah Bookstein is the executive rabbi for JConnectLA, which hosts events to help young Jews “connect to something bigger”. A popular blogger, Bookstein’s writings regularly appear in The Huffington Post, Jewlicious and LA’s JewishJournal.com. He also maintains the Facebook presence for both JConnectLA and the Jewlicious Festival, a popular youth event. Lisa Colton: @LisaColton and @DarimOnline Lisa Colton is the founder of Darim Online, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Jewish organizations and leaders effectively leverage social media to achieve their goals, including community building, education, communication and fundraising. In the past year, Colton has presented at conferences throughout the United States, and has hosted social media webinars online. William Daroff: @Daroff William Daroff is the vice president for public policy and director of the Washington Office for the Jewish Federations of North America. To the Jewish online community he is @Daroff, a prolific Tweeter who offers great insights into happenings in the American Jewish community. In 2011, Daroff co-chaired the social media committee for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Global Coalition for Israel. Chaviva Galatz: @TheChaviva Galatz is a popular blogger, Tweeter and social media personality. She created and co-chaired the only Jewish-themed panel at the 2011 SxSW Interactive Festival in Austin, TX, entitled Jewish Synergy: Social Media and the New Community. She was named to The New York Jewish Week’s prestigious “36 Under 36” list where she was credited for “Connecting with Jews, one Tweet at a time”. Allison Josephs: @JewInTheCity Josephs is the woman behind “Jew in the City,” a popular website and video blog that helps promote a positive perception of Orthodox Judaism to non-observant Jews and non-Jews alike. In the past year, she has been invited to speak at numerous events and was interviewed by NPR for her work. Esther Kustanowitz: @EstherK Known to the online community as EstherK, Kustanowitz is a respected blogger, Tweeter and nonprofit consultant. Esther has traveled the globe presenting at various conferences on topics like Jewish communal engagement, social media and innovation. She was recently named a "Jewish Engagement Superstar" by Jewcy. The Maccabeats: @Maccabeats The Maccabeats, the male acapella group from Yeshiva University, has captivated American Jews with its hugely viral music videos promoting Jewish holidays. Their video for the song “Candlelight” has more than 7 million views alone. In 2011, the group was invited to perform for President Barack Obama at the official White House Chanukah party. The Maccabeats recently helped raise more than $88,000 for Gift of Life through their Miracle Match campaign. Rabbi Jason Miller: @RabbiJason Miller is a popular blogger on a wide variety of Jewish topics including technology, pop culture, politics and Jewish law. He is published regularly in the New York Jewish Week, The Huffington Post and the Detroit Jewish News. Rabbi Miller’s video response to former presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry’s “Strong” commercial has nearly 220,000 views on YouTube and was written about in dozens of national and international publications. Dave Weinberg: @Weinberg81 A Jewish innovator who uses social media to rally people for causes he supports, Weinberg runs Causil, which offers nonprofit consulting, conferences such as the Future of Jewish Nonprofit Summit, aimed at educating the Jewish community on social media. Dave also was invited to lead the Social Media Boot Camp at the AJOP Convention earlier this year. Rabbi Josh Yuter: @JYuter Rabbi Josh Yuter is not only a pulpit rabbi. He’s a popular blogger, tweeter, and podcaster (his Jewish-themed podcasts were downloaded more than 20,000 times last year.) After he launched an impressive Facebook page and Twitterfeed for his synagogue, he was chosen by the Rabbinical Council of America to teach other rabbis about social media and “Using the Web to Teach Torah” at its 2011 Annual Convention.

The Emerging Field of Network Weavers

After in-depth conversations with around 30 network-weavers in the Jewish world as part of my Network-Weaver Series, I have seen that there are a lot of really passionate people building networks that are quite impressive – and the term “network-weaving” resonates with many of them quite deeply. It puts a descriptive word to what they do in connecting others toward a greater cause; and more importantly, it acknowledges that they are not alone in doing it. On a parallel level, more and more organizations are becoming aware of the possibilities of working with networks that can drive forward causes and campaign, build and unite communities, and provide support and resources that bolster Jewish identity. Yet there is confusion and imprecision in terminology – most notably, the term “network” itself. Once a network is properly understood to be a system of interconnected individuals or groups who share some factor(s) in common, it is not always clear how to integrate work with networks into one’s day-to-day activities. How do we support and strengthen the execution of this role in our organizations, and in the community as a whole? Based on my conversations, I believe three parallel tracks are necessary to make the Jewish world’s already invaluable efforts – in education, social services, community-building, social justice, and on – more effective and connected:

  1. Training: Organizations, their leadership, and their professionals well-positioned to build and sustain networks should gain a greater understanding of how networks operate and how to work in a networked way. This training will be most effective if it includes a continuum of learning the theory and practicing it in action.
  2. Connecting: Network-weavers across organizations need to be connected to support one another, share frustrations and best practices, find resources (including people, information, and funds), and collaborate;
  3. Professionalizing: These steps and others will build toward the professionalization of the field of Jewish network-weaving – which will create a commonly accepted terminology of network-weaving, its challenges and benefits. With this understanding, it will become more standard for organizations to incorporate network-weaving into their job descriptions and their strategy.

The fact is that professionals across the spectrum of Jewish nonprofits are already weaving networks – that is, connecting people with resources and each other for greater goals. Communications and alumni relations professionals and those in outreach, education, and young adult engagement are just some examples. In my interviews, I have observed many common themes amongst those who excel at network-weaving positions. These include a desire to get to know others due to an insatiable curiosity for and fundamental love of people; a knack for retaining knowledge about others so as to formulate helpful connections between disparate parties on the spot; and an ability to employ these talents and others for the sake of driving forward projects, and ultimately missions. Yet while many of the network-weavers I interviewed spoke of the innate and intuitive “people skills” their work entails, there are tools, technologies, as well as theory and strategy behind building networks, which have a firm academic foundation that can be learned and applied. Furthermore, I believe that network-weaving throughout the Jewish world will become increasingly effective as network-weavers learn to practice a greater degree of intentionality – a consciousness first and foremost of the larger vision they are seeking to achieve, and then an understanding of how networks operate and how they can be strategically leveraged toward those goals. The process of training, connecting, and professionalizing that I have laid out will help those who are currently in network-weaving roles to become more effective – as well as those who are naturally adept at network-weaving characteristics (such as relationship-building) and would like to fill professional network-weaving roles to grow into them. This, therefore, would also tremendously benefit the organizations network-weaving positions are housed in, and the Jewish world as a whole. Considering that so many organizations and individuals are currently exploring the path of building networks, I believe it only makes sense to find ways to weave our efforts together. Network-weaving sounds highly theoretical until you try to put it into practice. At the point when talk begins to translate into action, everyone will need to support one another through the challenges and combine our energies and resources toward the solutions. What do you think needs to happen in order for this field to be professionalized? What do you need in your organization and/or as a network-weaver? How have you created organizational change, and what do you dream of for the future? If you would like to be a part of these efforts, please contact me! Deborah Fishman is a network weaver interested in new opportunities to create change in the Jewish world. She was most recently Editor and Publisher of PresenTense Magazine. This post is cross-posted on Deborah’s blog, hachavaya.blogspot.com, as a part of her ongoing conversation series with network-weavers about their best practices. Deborah has published many of these interviews and other network weaving thoughts on eJewishPhilanthropy.com too.

We Will Do, And (Then) We Will Understand

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine accurately quip in “The Networked Nonprofit” that “social media is a contact sport.” You can’t expect to succeed without getting your hands dirty. As it happens, that’s just how the young nation of Israel agrees to learn the Torah – standing at Sinai, overwhelmed by the presence of the Divine, they collectively intone “na’aseh v’nishma” (Exodus 24:7 – what an appropriately enumerated verse). Loosely translated, “we will do, and (then) we will hear/understand.” Or, even more loosely translated, “first we will give this a try, then we’ll have some idea what it’s all about.” Israel agrees that the Torah is not an intellectual exercise, it is a lived experience.

“Na’aseh v’nishma” is your social media call to action. Knowing conceptually that it would be useful to connect with other people free of the constraints of time and space is an important step. But it can’t compare to, for instance, engaging your network on Facebook to help find the modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma.”* Sensing that social media increases the likelihood of serendipity doesn’t hold a candle to finding your next job through Twitter. Believing that social media is a key part of your communications strategy is very different from putting that belief into action. But what about those who need to feel the ROI (or rather, ROE – return on engagement) before diving in? What about the “lo n’aaseh” (“we will not do”) folks? On the one hand, there are those who will take on this challenge only because they “have to.” A friend recently told me about a colleague in her office who, upon taking the job, was cajoled into creating a Facebook account for the first time. The position involved working heavily with teens, and the person he was replacing realized as he was ending his tenure that he had missed out on opportunities for engagement by avoiding social media – “Facebook” was the advice he passed on to his successor. The new colleague is seeing early signs of success, meeting the teens in their own space, in their own language. Another friend had a similar experience:

alisonfbquote On the other hand, there are those for whom working in social media may never feel like the right fit. It may move too frenetically, require too many technical proficiencies, feel too exposing or time consuming, or any number of things. At the same time, social media is becoming part of the vernacular of our culture. Even the most reluctant of us may have to reexamine our practice in light of new ways of working. This is a familiar story to some:

Ultimately, you can’t really “get” social media without saying “na’aseh v’nishma” and engaging it as a contact sport. Facing reluctance is tough – there are always reasons not to do anything! So if you’re working on a co-worker, easing them into working with and through social technologies, it would be useful to have the following things in mind:

  1. Have a plan and a goal. Pick one thing, something that requires little effort, but can reap big rewards. Choose an internal project to work on in a Facebook group instead of over email, or tweet out questions during conference calls to solicit input from your organization’s followers and fans instead of (or as part of) a newsletter. Talk about both how things change, and what that means for your work.
  2. Blend online and on-land experiences. Reference Facebook in phone calls, share a great question from an email conversation on LinkedIn, bring digital spaces into your in-person conversations. These online spaces are not something “other,” they are powerful connective tools that can weave worlds – and people – together.
  3. Once you get started, remember that these things take time. Look for the bright spots, the places where your colleague is having success (or learning to redefine success). Focus on those, and encourage growth from there.

With social media, as with so many things, the understanding is in the doing. Admittedly, this is no easy task. Success in social media does take an investment of time, energy, thought…much like any meaningful human relationship. But this is how we learn. We do, and we do again. And then we understand. What was your “na’aseh v’nishma” moment? When did the “doing” make all the difference? (Share your voice in the comments and one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will receive a free copy of the book “Switch”.)

*The modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma” could arguably be found in cognitive psychology: “effort justification.” It’s a fancy way of saying that when we work at something, when we dig in and invest ourselves, we understand it better and appreciate it more. Hat tip to Jay Schreiber and Rabbi Josh Yuter for helping me out on that one.

Jewish New Media Innovation Fund Winners Go Beyond Those Awarded Funds

Today the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund announced the winners of the exciting process that help catalyze our community to focus on new media, our missions, and our strategy for the digital age. It was a fascinating experience to read the applications of the final 30, think deeply about the criteria of the fund, collaborate with an extraordinary team of advisors, and work with three visionary foundations. I am honored to have been part of this pilot year, and I hope that this initiative, and others like it, will continue.

While I’m quite excited about the projects that have been awarded funding, I’m even more excited about the broader impact that this fund has had on established organizations, entrepreneurs, and funders alike. Having worked to advance the Jewish community’s use of digital media for over 10 years now (wow, that went fast), I can see that even the announcement of the Fund changed the conversations among staff and lay leaders throughout the Jewish community. While a social media and mobile strategy might have been pushed to the bottom of the agenda over and over again, the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund forced them to put it at the top of the agenda, and to think about it strategically, not just tactically. Regardless of whether or not these ideas were funded today, providing an incentive, structure and time line I’m sure has deepened and advanced the work of many applicants.

It’s also important to note that the criteria used to evaluate the proposals has an impact beyond the short term decision making about fund allocation. For example, one requirement was that the projects would be able to launch or achieve results within 12 months. While in some cases this felt like a really compressed time line, the reality is that we are all in a permanent beta mode — we have to throw ideas against the wall, assess their effectiveness, and continue to refine over time. If you’re spending more than a year putting it together, either the idea wasn’t sufficiently thought out to begin with, or you’re not prepared to develop in an agile and iterative process.

The fund also set a priority on innovation – though the term was fairly broadly defined. In many cases, I think the made applicants really think beyond the obvious. I was impressed by how many applications viewed their mission through a new lens as they developed their applications. While the technology employed may not have been so “innovative” and new, the ways that they were thinking about their work clearly were. Kol hakavod to those that busted through the walls of their buildings, put the freedom of exploration in the hands of their users, and researched technologies, platforms and models outside of their immediate sphere of influence, or even their comfort zones.

There are many more lessons to be learned from the applicant pool, process, and over time, the outcomes of the projects funded. Regardless of who receives a check, this Fund was a tremendous gift to our community. I hope that those who used the opportunity to think in new and deeper and riskier ways will still find inspiration and value from the process, and will resolve to continue to take action on these ideas by incorporating these costs into their operating budget where appropriate, writing other grants, and seeking the support of other funders – foundations and individuals – who also recognize that these tools, ideas and approaches are critical to our communal future.

Are you an applicant to the #JNMIF who didn’t get your project funded this round? How are you going to proceed with this work? What non-financial assistance do you need? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Women Who Tech – I’m Not The Average Story

womenwhotechThere’s a good thing cooking on September 15th. It’s the third annual Women Who Tech summit, a series of phone-based panels featuring the who’s who of women in technology, includingRashmi Sinha of SlideShare, Kaliya Hamlin of Shes Geeky, Shireen Mitchell of Digital Sistas, Beth Kanter, Amy Sample Ward, Michelle Murrain, and Lauren Vargas,, Irene Au of Google, Amy Jo Kim of ShuffleBrain, Heather Harde of Tech Crunch, and Lynne d. Johnson, formerly of Fast Company and now with the Advertising Research Foundation (plus a couple smart men, such as Clay Shirky and Geoff Livingston). The event is a series of stellar panels (again, by phone, so you can participate from anywhere), including “Social Media ROI”, “Launching Your Own Startup”, and “Self Promotion: Is This Really a Rant About Gender?”.

I totally get the premise of the summit, that women are underrepresented in mainstream media and blogs and conference panels, that we need to break down barriers to women’s participation in the technology sector, and the need to create a network of women in technology who can be called upon as experts in their field.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, “only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The prestigious start-up incubator Y Combinator has had just 14 female founders among the 208 firms it has funded.” Women Who Tech is not the only women-focused event on the calendar. In December, the influential technology conference TED is holding its first women-focused conference. (More stats and resources about women in tech are available here.) I applaud these events, not for their sometimes interpreted as “affirmative action for women” approach, but for their celebration and encouragement of women who are breaking down perceived (as well as actual) barriers.

The thing is, I grew up in a different world, where my CEO-of-educational-technology-startups mother worked long hours to excel at her career, make the world a better place, and be a 100% mom at the same time. It’s possible that she worked harder than her male colleagues, or had more to balance with her roles at home, but from my point of view as a kid and young adult, women could do anything. The fact that I have chosen to work in a tech-related field isn’t because I am trying to change percentages, or represent my gender in high level decision making. It’s because it excites me, and I’m good at it. Gender never played into my decision (if it had, I would be doing something else?), and it rarely presents itself as an issue in my professional life.

That being said, there are definitely times when I look around the room and find myself in the company of mostly men. I like to think I’m rather Zen about it. I take note, and then move on. Recently, I’ve been putting together a panel for a social media session at a major national Jewish conference. I’m struggling to find a man for the panel, you know, just for the sake of diversity. So in my world, thankfully, the experience is not as one-sided as the venture capital statistics seem to say. (Note to self: I wonder how different is actually is in the nonprofit world – reflecting on my experiences at NTEN conferences, the presenters are heavily weighted towards women. Currently seeking the latest stats). The goal here is not 50/50 equality all the time. The goal is to recognize both real and perceived barriers, and to abolish them.

While others may interpret events like the upcoming Women Who Tech and TEDWomen as equally sexist as the venture capitalists whose decision making percentages they quote, I think the greatest power of these events is to give women who didn’t have moms like mine a similar sense of “anything is possible.” Further, as women, we do face unique challenges (as me sometime about the weeks leading up to announcing to my clients that I was pregnant for the first time, or how I paced around the house with a newborn in a sling, the wireless phone clipped to my hip, and a headset on – someone should have taken a photo). But most of all, these events are tremendous for one main reason: they showcase tremendous talent, all in one place.

The Women Who Summit event is an easy-to-swallow $20. Really. So mark your calendar for September 15th, from 11am to 6pm Eastern time. All you need is an internet connection and a phone line. Check out the schedule and register online. There are even after parties in a handful of major cities. I might try and get myself to the New York City one. Anyone care to join me?

Plus, I’ve got 2 passes to give away. Leave your comment here with your thoughts on gender and technology and I’ll pick two winners before Rosh Hashanah (September 8th). But go ahead and buy your pass now. You can always give it to the nice gal (or guy) down the hall. With a pink bow around it. Or not.

Crowdsourcing the Jewish Future: What’s Your Vision?

[crossposted from jlearn2.0] Passionate about Jewish learning? Have Big Ideas about what 21st Century Jewish learning might look like? Share your vision … and you just might win an all expense trip to the upcoming Jewish Futures Conference – not to mention a world-wide audience!

BJENY-SAJES and JESNAs Lippman-Kanfer Institute invite you to submit a short video that communicates your response to the following question:

As we move toward a world where learning happens anywhere and everywhere, authored by anyone, what could Jewish learning and life look like in the future?

Those submitting the top three responses will be flown to New Orleans on November 7-8, 2010 (all expenses paid) to present their thinking at the Jewish Futures Conference. The Conference will be held on Monday, November 8, 2010 as part of the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America.

High profile presenters, combined with up and coming innovators from the Jewish and general world, will each be given 10-18 minutes to describe their vision for the future of Jewish learning in the context of emerging new digital and social technologies.

Submissions will be accepted in the form of 4 minute videos by August 27, 2010 and should be sent to: futures@bjeny.org

Questions? Contact Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan: samlana@bjeny.org

What are you waiting for? Come on over and check out submission and event details here now!

What’s your vision? Share a preview in the comments below!

The “New Normal” is Change. Deal With It.

At the Jewish Communal Service Association’s annual program today, change was the name of the game. Jerry Silverman, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America in particular spoke about two kinds of change that we need to embrace: First, accepting that constant change is the “new normal” (the theme of the JCSA conference), and second, the need to confidently lead through change, whether that be changing economic times, new technologies, and evolving cultures.

On the first, we need to learn how to be more nimble — learning new skills, evolving our decision making processes to be able to move more swiftly, and being able to adjust structures to keep the machine humming when the outside world shifts.

But all of this is only possible when we are successful with the second. Leading through change is a great challenge, that involves not only good business strategy, but excellent communication, team building, listening, and attention to the psychology of change, not only the logistics of change. If the Jewish community needs one thing, it’s people who are superb leaders in times of change.

Several years ago, when Darim was shifting from our original work of building web sites to a focus on training, coaching and consulting, I read a powerful book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges. The take home message: Change is situational (like a light switch), but transition is psychological (a process). We need leaders who know what change needs to be made to thrive in the “new normal”, but those same leaders also need to facilitate a transition, which requires a whole different set of skills.

If you haven’t noticed, the Jewish community isn’t the only one recognizing this need. (It’s comforting to know we’re not behind the curve on this one!) A flurry of new books are hitting the shelves focused on change strategy and management in today’s world:

  • Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath (from Amazon.com): In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.
  • The Power of Pull, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison (from Amazon.com): In a radical break with the past, information now flows like water, and we must learn how to tap into its stream. But many of us remain stuck in old practicespractices that could undermine us as we search for success and meaning. Drawing on pioneering research, The Power of Pull shows how to apply its principles to unlock the hidden potential of individuals and organizations, and how to use it as a force for social change and the development of creative talent.

Coming out soon:

  • Open Leadership, by Charlene Li (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): “Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras-but companies often push back. Business is premised on the concept of control and yet the new world order demands openness-leaders do not know how to be open and be in control. This must-have resource will help the modern leader understand how to lead in the new open world-where blogging, twittering, facebooking, and digging are becoming the norm. the author lays out the steps that leaders must take to transform their organizations and themselves into being “open” -and exactly what that will mean.
  • Empowered, by Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) (from Amazon.com): Fueled by data from Forrester Research, Empowered is packed with the business tools and information necessary to move your organization several steps ahead … and lead … your people (who are) armed with cheap, accessible technology, and are connecting with customers and building innovative new solutions.

What are your strategies for managing change? Where have you been successful? What’s hard? Do you have advice or other resources to add to the conversation? Onward!

Cleveland Jewish Federation Puts Community at Your Fingertips

Turns out Birthright Israel NEXT isnt the only Jewish organization with an iPhone app. In addition to BRI NEXTs Mila4Phone, there are hundreds of other Jewish apps available through the iTunes store. Some of them are Torah related, others are related to Shabbat, prayer, Kashruth, or learning.

One organization that is leading this trend in the Jewish community is the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland. Its app, Jewish CLE, features a community calendar, interactive maps, a community director and links to the Federations YouTube channel, twitter feed and event photos.

JewPoint0 caught up Steph Dlugon, director product marketing of iNomadics, creator of Jewish CLE, to learn more about how the app came together.

A look at Jewish CLE's Calendar function

How did Jewish CLE come to be?

About a year ago, iNomadics had this idea about creating apps for places like nonprofits, and community and arts organizations. Because nonprofits always have events or time sensitive information that they need to get out to their constituents, we felt they needed to develop a mobile presence. We approached the Jewish Federation of Cleveland with the idea of developing an app. The Cleveland Federation thought it was a good idea and we started working with the people there to figure out what their needs would be and to develop the best features. A year ago was early on for nonprofit organizations to be thinking about the mobile web. One of our challenges was to find a forward-thinking group that saw the benefit of a tool like this. Even though it took some time to hash out the details, initial talks with the Cleveland Federation were really promising. They seemed to get the idea, the benefits and usefulness of having an app right away.
Whats so important about a mobile presence?

I think about the Internet of the 90s, when everyone scrambled to have a website. That same trend is happening now with going mobile, and its happening much faster than in the past. Its important for organizations, if they want to stay viable, to adopt a complete mobile strategy. And the ones that do will be able to stay relevant and thrive.

What was it like working with the Cleveland Federations leadership? We had talks with different groups within the organization throughout the whole process. Because the app was a pretty new idea, we had a bit of a challenge trying to explain its benefits to different groups in the organization. If we ever got stuck, we would regroup and bring in other people to help make it work… If there is one lesson learned its the importance of open communication from the beginning so that everyone understands what is happening.

What is Jewish CLE all about?

There are a couple layers to it. First is the news feature, which just gets information to people, and that is why I think its being downloaded all over the world. Second is the events piece, which has events from entire Jewish community, not just Federation events. That is an engagement piece that is really important. A lot of organizations in the community can benefit from the app, which should help to bridge all gaps in community. Another piece to the app is the call to action stuff. Were trying to direct people to different ways to get involved. Not just directing people to the Federation to donate. We are helping people learn more about the Federation, which helps to connect people and get them on the same page. If the end result is information or donations either way to us its awesome.

How are you evaluating or tracking the impact of the app?

There is not really a formal evaluation process on our end. Im sure the Cleveland Federation is tracking usage and downloads. We are looking for feedback from users from the Federation on how to improve it. But, measurement and evaluation is an interesting concept. Consider: do we look for ways to justify the printing of calendar, or of owning a phone system? No, that is just the basics of running a business. We have to get past the question of should we or shouldnt we? to the question of should we do it this way or that way?

So, readers: Have you downloaded the CLE app? Thoughts? This way or that way?

No More Scissors and Paste: Bringing the Shabbat Service Online

By Matthew Grossman, BBYOs Executive Director

Last week BBYO announced the launch of what I believe is an exciting, inventive tool available to engage teens in a meaningful Shabbat experience: Build a Prayer. As a free, online tool the site is designed to connect youth with prayer and Shabbat like never before by allowing them to build and customize their own service.

At BBYO, I constantly see teens, advisors and staff members using unique spaces and creativity to offer relevant, powerful Shabbat services, a unique challenge since most teens have only experience services within their synagogue. This challenge is only made more difficult by the fact that most teens arent comfortable in a traditional siddur they dont know where services start and end, what to include, or what is safe to leave out.

To meet that need (and often times to save money), these worship services are typically guided by a teen-designed collection of songs, poetry and prayers that is compiled through an effort of photocopying, cutting and pasting together old song sheets and prayer book passages. As an organization, we saw the need to provide Jewish teens with an accessible place to explore prayer and its meanings doing it online also happens to save some glue.

What makes this site so exciting is that it brings thousands-of-years-old prayers into a modern day realm that teens relate to. It is streamlined and easy to use. In a few clicks of a button, teens have a complete service in front of them in which they feel some much needed connections. While not every teen feels comfortable finding their way in a traditional siddur, Build a Prayer allows teens to put together a basic Shabbat service in a space they can easily navigate.

The site is designed for teens, educators, camp counselors, youth group advisors, JCC professionals, chavurah leaders basically, anyone who is interested in putting together a Shabbat service in a formal or informal setting. The site allows Hebrew, English and/or transliterated text to be compiled with ones own pictures, prayers or poetry toward the creation of a custom Prayer Service which can be printed and used anywhere.

With help from www.myjewishlearning.org and a series of videos, users can learn more about the traditions and tunes behind specific prayers. Additionally, a content library holds creative elements from individual prayer services as they are created. Because this is an online resource, people can collaborate on the development of each service and comment on them once they are placed in the Build a Prayer library.

While recent studies show that participation in traditional religious experiences decline during the teen years, the desire to connect spiritually on ones own terms remains strong. Build a Prayer is another resource we are offering the Jewish community as a way to better connect with Jewish teens. Organizations looking to reach the teen audience should look at this as a tool to literally bring prayer to life.

Matt Grossman is the Executive Director of BBYO. He began his career at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Matt is also a member of the Darim Online board of directors. Matt currently lives in Washington, DC where he works at BBYO’s international headquarters.