Hi hello there! It’s sure been awhile since I last posted! I’ve been busy letting Reese’s pb cups melt in my pockets… and traveling for Mother’s Day and my twin sister’s graduation and Salesforce World Tour… and preparing next year’s budget for my just-under-$500k-scale synagogue… oh, and planning this super rockstar webinar that’s comin atcha THIS THURSDAY! I really want to make one more pitch for our webinar on Change-making Mindsets, so let me twist your arm. Everyone who registers will have the opportunity to download a custom designed gorgeous poster by social movement artist and all around pal Katie Blanchard. (You’ve seen her work here before!)
The webinar has even gotten some advance praise!
“Artists and activists do important work that can be enhanced with a little more confidence handling data and technology. This free webinar suggests mindsets, actions, and actual ART to help you “punch Impostor Syndrome in the face.” Sign up here!from best-ever-collaborator Emily’s friend, Kristin
We have 50+ webinar guests already. I don’t want you to miss this learning opportunity and I’m so, so excited to share our work with this community. Let me know if you have any questions!
I’m working on some communications-related projects at work (webinars, blogs, podcasts! huzzah!) that made me want to dig up an old case study. My interest was piqued when I saw a quick link to an article on metaphors for “go-live” (I’m not going to link to it here because I didn’t much like the metaphors and I don’t want to spread negativity). Go live is jargon for switching from an old system to a new one, when you actually turn on the new one. The metaphors they offered were:
- Real estate
- Exploration (westward expansion)
Immediately, I had a a flashback to a board meeting I attended a few years ago. I was supporting a small organization as it contemplated a merger. I was laying on the floor (as I am want to do!) surrounded by herbal tea and flipchart paper. And a fellow board member went on a long explanation about how a merger is like a marriage, where you have the flirting phase, the dating phase, the contract phase, the sharing everything phase, the honeymoon phase, etc. I know I tend to be opinionated, but I had an uncharacteristically strong reaction, even for me! (And I’ll say – I think this person meant well! I respect him a lot, still, and I’m sure he had no idea that his comment was going to upset me). Here’s what happened next:
What I said was, “This explanation helps me understand more about your worldview, but it doesn’t teach me very much about our merger process!”
What I felt was, “There isn’t room for me in this discussion. Organizations that center heterosexual marriage as the norm and the ideal will never be able to accommodate the world-changing change-making work that I want to be part of. The merger I’m looking for is about values, synergy, alignment, vision, strengths, shared resources, bringing our communities together, and building a more powerful coalition than either organization can do alone. Marriage is a legal contract that has been set up to privilege and exclude groups of people based on the whims of people in power. Let’s find metaphors, or make new ones, that have room for us to celebrate our vibrant futures, queer partnerships, laughter, irreverance, and our whole selves!”
I doubt whether anyone else from this meeting remembers this exchange, but to this day, I feel it in my bones. Metaphors matter! And too often, metaphors in the tech industry just don’t mesh well with the lived experiences and worldviews of people in my activist community.
We’re not interested in metaphors about “closing that deal” or “lead generation.” On the other hand, I’ve seen faces light up when I tell a story about volunteer recruitment or fundraising analytics. Us changemakers need good data – and it’s reasonable to demand that tools and features be explained using OUR language, on OUR terms.
My mentors have taught me to “oppose AND propose” so I’d like to offer some new metaphors for “go live” that resonate with my technologist brain and my changemaker heart and soul.
“Go live is like cooking a new recipe for a dinner party with all of your friends!”
You bought all the ingredients, even the obscure ones that you had to learn how to pronounce and where to procure. You did all the prep – even the really hard stuff like julienning a million carrots! You heated everything up and you brought your people together. Now it’s time to sit down to a meal! The first time you make it, it might not come out perfectly. But that’s ok because the people you’ve invited to your dinner party are part of your community, and they’re going to stick it out for the long haul. You left notes on your batter-splattered cookbook and you know that in the future, you’ll be adding a dessert course! Nobody had ever tasted a dish like this before, but some people really enjoyed it and they want to volunteer to roll up their sleeves before the next dinner party. You’re well on your way to a thriving food … er… tech culture in your organization. Bon appetit!
“Go live is like planning an action!”
You laid the best plans imaginable, with skilled volunteers in every role. You have a clear goal and vision for what your technology is going to accomplish and why it’s necessary to do hard work now in order to prepare for change in the future. You even practiced and did a trial run during the pre-action training (aka quality assurance and user adoption testing!). The thing is, actions are always unpredictable! Your target might lock their doors or call in police. It might rain. You’ve prepared for these scenarios with backup plans, delegated decision makers, and supporters waiting in the wings. Taking action can be *really* scary, but luckily, you have mentors and guides to help you — and you’ve done scary things before that turned out ok! Come to think about it, the scary part of actions is directly related to the part that make you feel empowered and fulfilled. You can get that feeling from using technology well! Like taking action, this isn’t something you can explore alone. Good thing you’re part of a community that’s dedicated to using good tools AND fighting for justice! iSi se puede!
Speaking of actions, I’ll leave you with two photos from an action that’s been on my mind this week: