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The Good Enough PrincipleWhat we can learn about IT from nonprofits June 5, 2008 Edward Granger-Happ CIO, Save the Children Chairman, NetHope Executive Fellow, Tuck/Dartmouth
What I’m Doing at Tuck • Learning • Auditing class on Comparative Leadership Models • One on Social Entrepreneurship • And one on Business Ethics • Advising • Independent study on disruptive innovation • Team project on tech collaboration for small nonprofits (NGOs) • Writing • NTEN/J. Wiley Book • Blog: http://granger-happ.blogspot.com/ • Lecturing • Leadership • Future of Technology • Good Enough Principle
“What makes a resource truly strategic … is not ubiquity but scarcity. You only gain an edge over rivals by having or doing something that they can't have or do. By now, the core functions of IT — data storage, data processing, and data transport — have become available and affordable to all.” --Nicolas Carr
For cooking with chocolate, “I don't think one should go to the giddy heights of chocolate snobbery," she says. The most expensive chocolate isn't necessary, but "you've got to use, I think, a good-enough bar." --Nigella Lawson, food writer
Five Take-Aways • 80% of what we do in IT is a commodity function –don’t innovate and lead where it’s not needed • Good Enough technology is capacity building, not limiting • Willingness to accept technology expertise and service from other organizations requires humility • The reason collaboration (like NetHope) works is because nonprofit IT people are beggars and hungry– serious underfunding creates that opportunity • Being world class in strategic areas, means being good enough in service areas
Our business is delivering programs that have impact ClientsBeneficiaries How do we Grow impact? ResultsImpact ProductsPrograms DonorsRevenue 8
To Build Capacity We Need to Do Seven Things More Effective Impact At Greater Scale Effective, Efficient, Scalable Programs Hiring Training Partnering Processes Standards Advocacy Tools Systems Impact Funding Support 9
To Build Capacity We Need to Do Seven Things More Effective Impact At Greater Scale Effective, Efficient, Scalable Programs Hiring Training Partnering Processes Standards Advocacy Tools Systems Impact Funding Support 10
In US rural communities more children are reading at grade level Source: Save the Children 11
In Bangladesh PDAs are delivering capacity gains 192,000 Beneficiaries. Source: Save the Children 13
In Bolivia the gain is 57% Source: Save the Children 18,000 beneficiaries 15
Connectivity is Foundational Network infrastructure: NetHope Connecting the field workers (inward) Connecting the poor (outward) Bangladesh - pay cell phone cottage industry that Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Bank has incubated among poor women Costa Rica - elimination of fraud by connecting farmers to the on-line port of export prices. 17
There is an interesting relationship between connectivity & poverty U.S. Census Bureau and Telegeography Global Bandwidth report 18
Leveraging IT at Save the Children New Program Venues e.g., US Literacy Program; Bolivia Education Program 1. Child-facing Work Flow Application Program Delivery Program Mgmt, Supply Chain, M&E., etc. 2. Field-facing Increasing Strategic Leverage Work Flow Applications Revenue/Donation Delivery Grant Mgmt, Web Donations, Donor Mgmt 3. Donor-facing 4. Supporting Infrastructure: “Keeping the Lights On” Desktop PC’s, Email, Internet, Servers 19
The Strategies Change at Each Level New Pgm Venues Pilot, Build 1. Child-facing Work Flow Application Program Delivery Connect, Deliver 2. Field-facing Increasing Strategic Leverage Work Flow Applications Revenue/Donation Delivery Buy, Co-op 3. Donor-facing 4. Supporting Infrastructure: “Keeping the Lights On” Drive out costs, Outsource 20
And the Good Enough Boundary is High New Pgm Venues Pilot, Build 1. Child-facing Innovative, value-added Technology Work Flow Application Program Delivery Connect, Deliver 2. Field-facing Increasing Strategic Leverage “Good Enough” Commodity Technology Work Flow Applications Revenue/Donation Delivery Buy, Co-op 3. Donor-facing 4. Supporting Infrastructure: “Keeping the Lights On” Drive out costs, Outsource 21
Seven International Nonprofits Agreed on a “Good Enough” Approach to Emergency Response
A Word from Emergency Response Directors… “Being ‘good enough’ means choosing a simple solution rather than an elaborate one. ‘Good enough’ does not mean second best: it means acknowledging that, in an emergency response, adopting a quick and simple approach to impact measurement and accountability may be the only practical possibility” --The Good Enough Guide
Changing Priorities By Program Type Ranking factors 1-4, 1=highest For emergency response, time and volume are king; for longer-term development, cost and quality reign
Application Areas at Save the Children A blinding flash of the obvious: this looks remarkably like the 80-20 rule.
Survey Project for Upper Valley NGOs • Students have uncovered some interesting things about local nonprofits: • They are strongly interested in technology: 76% survey response rate • They are very small: half have less than 15 employees • Their technology budgets are tiny: three-quarters spend less than $25K/year • Almost no one has internal technology resources • Two-thirds believe technology can help move their mission forward
Key Conclusion Even if nonprofits tripled IT spending, they would still be playing catch-up for just keeping the lights on. 31
And the flip side? • What if your IT budget was cut 50%? • What if it were 80% less? I expect an article in the next six months saying CEOs expect their IT for free –Michael Schrage
Non Profit IT Departments Can’t Play the Odds IF • 57% of ERP projects don't realize their ROI (Nucleus Research) • 66% IT projects fail (Standish Chaos DB) • NGOs spend a 20th what corporations do (Tuck survey) • And we are spending donors’ dollars THEN • We must find a better way...
Consider Mercy Corps “Many of Mercy Corps’ field offices are located in austere environments with limited local IT support. In order to improve shared services within these offices, we adopted a server appliance strategy with two stretch goals: 100% reliability and 0% administration.” That’s zero% administration! They also follow the 80/5 Rule for network hardware: “80% of the functionality at 5% of the cost” Note the order of magnitude here: that’s 95% less for a “good enough” 80% solution.
Don’t think this is realistic? • Disruptive, catalytic innovators “offer products and services that are simpler and less costly than existing alternatives and may be perceived as having a lower level of performance, but users consider them to be good enough.” –Clay Christensen • Can you think of some? Minute Clinics for Healthcare, Google App’s for desktop, Play Pump irrigation pumps
What else is possible for nonprofits? • Collaborate or Perish • Shared consulting/support • Shared web/file server hosting & backup • Shared fundraising systems guru • Shared technology procurement • Shared technology training The operative word here is Shared
Building Collaboration “Who has expertise I can trust? Shared Specialization Joint Projects “What can we build together?” Increasing Levels of Trust Partnering “How can we work with corporations?” Basic Info Sharing “What are my peers doing?”
Building Collaboration “Who has expertise I can trust? Shared Specialization The IT Coop Joint Projects “What can we build together?” Increasing Levels of Trust Partnering “How can we work with corporations?” Basic Info Sharing “What are my peers doing?” 38
NetHope – An Experiment in IT Collaboration • The Power of Collaboration
NetHope’s Major Partners and Supporters Our Partners Our Supporters • The Power of Collaboration
World Class versus Good Enough • Key question: in which areas do we need to be great, the most innovative, and world class? • It is not possible (and even not strategic) for an organization to try to be world class in every category. • For STC, our strategy team focused on four areas where we aspire to be best in the world: Child Survival, Newborn Health, Early Childhood Development and Emergencies. • Technology is not on that list • For a nonprofit it should not be • The "good enough" principle: “good enough" in the many areas allows us to be great in the fewer, most mission-critical areas. • Think Honda Civic versus Mercedes. Both are high quality; however the Civic is by far the more utilitarian, "good enough" transportation.
Emerging Countries as a Leading Indicator • Some of the technologies being developed in and for developing countries may be a leading indicator of technology opportunities and trends in developed countries. --Jackie Fenn • The “weak signals” for good enough technology may come from the countries that have the greatest need for low-cost, pragmatic solutions
How can corporations help? • In an emergency, volunteer for HQ work (not in the Field, Dave Clarke, ARC) • Advising, coaching and mentoring • Slots in your training programs • Share international bandwidth (satellite transponder space) • Donate PC & laptops at end-of-lease • Fellowship and sponsored employee volunteer programs (skill-based and time-based) • Unrestricted cash
Five Take-Aways • 80% of what we do in IT is commodity function –don’t innovate and lead where it’s not needed • Good Enough technology is capacity building, not limiting • Willingness to accept technology expertise and service from other organizations requires humility • The reason collaboration (like NetHope) works is because nonprofit IT people are beggars and hungry– serious underfunding creates that opportunity • Being world class in strategic areas, means being good enough in service areas
4. Positive Deviance • Jerry Sternin’s work in Vietnam; finding the families that were thriving in malnourished cultures and replicating the successes by turning these “positive deviants” into teachers and examples for the community • See the Fast Company article on Jerry, here: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/41/sternin.html and the HBR article, here: http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbsp/hbr/articles/article.jsp?ml_action=get-article&articleID=F00101 • As you build your network, look for where the success stories are occurring: spotlight them!
5. Communities care about social responsibility • Some recent data: • WSJ report: survey of 1,800 13-to-25-year-olds • 79% want to work for a company that cares about how it affects or contributes to society • 64% said their employer's social and environmental activities inspire loyalty • One of top 3 questions asked by Microsoft applicants: What’s your social responsibility program? • 50% of Tuck applicants who are accepted ask about the Allwin Initiative for Corporate Citizenship • What you do to support local nonprofits matters!