Thursday, March 18, 2010

NetHope Summit, Day Four - The Path Forward

In my religious tradition, the liturgy ends with the statement: "The worship is ended. The service now begins." This is an appropriate metaphor for our NetHope Summit which ended on Thursday. We have had what can be seen as a grand celebration of information sharing, which is the basis of all collaborations. Our work as NetHope continues to grow and evolve in ways that merit anew our commitment to the group, and merit the partnerships with our supporters. We have broken bread, toasted with wine, and practiced singing from the same page. Now we return to our home countries and organizations where the real work begins.

I want to encourage each of you who attended, and those who have followed from afar, to think about your key take-aways: what you have learned and what things you will change and put into practice.

To jump-start your thinking about this, here is my list:

1) I met dozens of new people from the membership and from our supporters. Making these connections and continuing the conversations is an important way to carry the Summit forward. I'm inviting each of you write me with your questions and connect with me on

2) I saw a number of presentations with conclusions, charts and links that I want to study more. I look forward to review these on TAG, NetHope’s SharePoint intranet.

3) I was reminded how hard change is, not only from Chip and Dan Heath’s new book[2] , which I’m reading, but also in the bewildered and pained faces –as well as the arms-crossed disbelief-- that I saw across the meeting rooms and in 1:1 conversations. I need to paint clearer pictures about what all the changes mean for IT workers. We all want to know WIIFM[3].

4) I heard a number of personal stories, especially about the personal impact that the field trips had. The Masai Mara group had moving accounts and photos that I hope you get to see on the NetHope Flickr page (see for details.) I’ve been a collector of stories, which you can read on my book project page, Letters to a Young Manager.

5) Following advice from those more knowledgeable is often wise. I was warned about wearing sunscreen and not eating uncooked foods. Yet I’m an advocate of “do something” and “ready, fire, aim,” which sometimes means you get burned and set-back. This was a case where “eating your own dog food” may mean literally choking on your words. To round out the clich├ęs: caveat emptor! But nonetheless, move forward. If you catch the paradox here, welcome to reality.

During the Shared Services session on Thursday morning, Rui Lopes told an interesting story about the “NetHope plane.[4] With apologies to Rui if I’ve not done it justice, here’s a paraphrase of the story:

“There was a person who wanted to go on a plane ride (Ed), so he acquired a plane. However, he didn't want to go on the ride by himself, so he tried to get some other riders, so that the ride would be more cost effective and so that he would have more fun, with companions. The plane was called NetHope, and the initial navigators were two guys named Ed and Dipak. Soon passengers (members) were added and the journey moved on. The plane was going to have several destinations (connectivity, ER, I4D, Shared Services, etc.). As the airline grew, a number of other employees were acquired to handle related activities (Joe, Jack, Frank, Barry, etc.) And we needed the expert services of some senior pilots (ADP: Jessica, Dan and Tom).”

What I heard in this story is that it takes a growing collaboration to move a growing organization and our collective missions forward. That's a fitting summary for where we are and the path forward. As I stated in my keynote to the BPO Conference in Nairobi on Friday: We cannot go it alone!

[1] See my profile and send me an invitation at

[2] Chip and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Broadway, 2010

[3] WIIFM = What’s In It For Me. In other words, what’s the personal value statement for me.

[4] I heard this story second hand as I was out ill Thursday morning (see take-away #5).Thanks to Barry Sanders for filling me in.

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