Where Do You Take Your Pulse?

We all compare ourselves to others. It’s natural. How do we measure up compared to that person, that organization, that company. We often compare ourselves to the competition, because we need to stay just an inch ahead in order to compete. In the Jewish community, that often means looking at the other synagogue or school just down the street. We take the pulse of our immediate surroundings.

We’re taking the wrong pulse.

The people we’re trying to reach are comparing their experience with our Jewish communal organizations against every other organization and company they are dealing with in their day-to-day lives. We don’t get a free pass to have mediocre customer service or out of date information on our web site, or poorly formatted e-newsletters.

In today’s marketplace, we’re competing for attention. People don’t allocate 10% of their attention for Jewish causes, they put their attention where they find quality, value, social capital, and authenticity.

Thus staff and board members of Jewish organizations would be wise to expand their gaze, and learn from examples in other nonprofit organizations and the for-profit world. Even the trends that big corporations are responding to are applicable to local Jewish organizations, and today can be accomplished with no additional out-of-pocket dollars, and little (sometimes saved) staff time.

As Shel Israel writes in his new book Twitterville, companies like Dell and Comcast have pulled their reputations out of the gutter by putting real people out on the front lines of Twitter to listen and respond. Innovative companies like Zappos have made this culture of “paying attention” part of their company ethos. There’s a lot to learn from these guys.

Want to learn more? We’ll be giving away a copy of Twitterville soon. Next week we’ll be asking you about how you listen and pay attention to your community, and how you’re using social media to do so. Start thinking …

What other companies or organizations do you see as useful models for us to learn from? How have they inspired you?

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