By Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope
The brisk, rainy Dublin morning didn’t dampen the opening day enthusiasm of attendees at the NetHope Global Summit 2018. Looking out at the delegates seated in the historic Royal Dublin Society Concert Hall, I was reminded that the Summit is an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to forge new relationships.
We started the Summit with updates on two member-driven collaborative opportunities: Working Groups and regional Chapter Meetings. Alex Alpert, NetHope membership director, describes Working Groups as “the heart and soul” of NetHope. The five Working Groups and multiple workstreams that support them exemplify collaboration, how members work together to prioritize and achieve shared goals. Successful collaboration requires trust, and this is developed during Working Groups. I look forward to seeing the priorities that surface here at the Summit and appreciate those members who have assumed leadership roles. It’s clear: Working Groups only function with your involvement.
NetHope’s regional Chapter Meetings expand the benefits of collaboration opportunities throughout the world. Members convene to work through the challenges they face at a regional level and to identify how they can work together to have a greater impact. Ahmed Mihaimeed, Global ICT Advisor for SOS Children’s Village International, provided an update on the six chapter meetings with six regional trainings consisting of 200+ participants. He also presented their 2019 Goals: Align regional work streams with global working groups, identify opportunities for cross-chapter collaboration, and sustainable leadership. He also appealed to our members to host these meetings.
NetHope leadership provided a year-in-review update, including some personnel changes within NetHope administration. Frank Schott will be assuming a new role working on strategic partnerships, allowing him the time to think big, to expand the possibilities of collaborative impact. I am thankful for Frank’s 14-year contribution to NetHope and his collaboration with me. Frank challenged all of us to “Think audaciously,” to emulate how the U.S. achieved the “it can’t be done” goal of putting a man on the moon. Just as every astronaut has a checklist, Frank suggests our new program checklist should include four elements: drive member value (directly benefiting at least 25+ members), multi-partner collaboration, scalability, and sustainability.
Brent Carbno, who most recently ran the disaster response at Ericsson, has assumed Frank’s role as managing director of global programs. Brent noted that, in 1876, the founders of Ericsson prophetically believed communication is a basic human need. He felt that his move to NetHope would further this belief. Brent highlighted several NetHope projects from 2017, including the response to Hurricane Maria, subsequent workshop in Puerto Rico to capture lessons learned from that deployment, a disaster simulation in Panama aimed at improved disaster preparedness in the Caribbean and other parts of the world. He also highlighted Demand Aggregation in Uganda, which aggregated member demand in that region and secured affordable pricing for internet access. The Device Challenge, with funding through Google, put 37,000 devices into the hands of organizations and beneficiaries who could reap the benefits of connectivity, especially vulnerable populations such as refugees, migrants, and girls and women. He also shared initial plans for a NetHope response to the Venezuelan migration crisis.
NetHope COO Laura McMillan shared an update on the organization’s financial picture and introduced the Member Engagement team – Alex Alpert, Hunter Giaotti, and Jenna Groman – three individuals who are dedicated resources for members.
Later in the afternoon, John Roberts, CEO of myProteus, a U.K.-based Change Specialist, Transformation, and Project Management Consultancy, delivered an informative, engaging, and humorous presentation outlining how organizations fail at cross-sector projects and then challenged participants to focus on key opportunities through a one-on-one exercise.
The infamous NetHope Fail-Fest concluded the formal program with a few brave souls stepping forward. Fail-Fest is NetHope’s newest tradition — second annual, actually — where members get the “dishonor” of sharing organizational and programmatic failures. Daniela Weber, CIO of Marie Stopes International, emceed the event, which included members giving examples of projects that didn’t quite go as planned. When it comes to digital transformation, this willingness to share failure is a core tenet to success. It’s consistent with The Center for the Digital Nonprofit’s findings which stress the importance of developing a tolerance for failure when it comes to programs and projects. But, I get ahead of myself. That’s tomorrow’s news.
P.S. Don’t forget to fill out session evaluations on the NetHope app; these truly help us in developing programs that speak to YOUR needs! Thank you.