In our 30th year, we are in the midst of a strategic planning process; reflecting on where we come from, thinking about where we want to go, and asking what it will take to get there.
Many of our discussions relate to technology. The Alliance is powered by volunteers in dispersed communities, and we exploring options for allowing them to interact with each other directly, without Alliance staff as an intermediary, to improve the opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. We also allow our staff to work remotely (we recently moved our home office from the U of Minnesota campus to the Greenway Building, and beginning in October we will have staff at the new Uptown CoCo), which means we rely on technology to collaborate.
There are so many choices: Dropbox, Google’s suite of services for entrepreneurs, Skype, Trello, and other applications too numerous to mention, plus old standbys like email and word processing programs. In this era, functional organizations require technology plans that successfully integrate tech planning into their overall strategic planning. Some interpret this to mean that the technology chosen should be consistent with the organization’s mission.
This question — How do we balance the demands of integrating dispersed staff and volunteers, finite organizational resources, and the desire to choose technology that is consistent with our strategic goals? — has led to some interesting values discussions on the topic of Open Source. The Alliance for Sustainability is often thought of as an environmental organization, but our definition of sustainability (ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and humane) is holistic. Thus, it is with a twinge of sadness that we notice so many of our natural allies in the environmental movement choosing to vote with their dollars