Archive - February 2015

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Doctors and Inattentive Care
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Shutting Off Comments
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Readying Your Cause to Matter More to People

Doctors and Inattentive Care

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.50.00 AMFront page of the New York Times: Doctor’s Strive to Do Less Harm by Inattentive Care. This is as close to a headline in the Onion that the times can get!

Here is the nut sentence in the story, “The effort is driven partly by competition and partly by a realization that suffering, whether from long waits, inadequate explanations or feeling lost in the shuffle, is a real and pressing issue.” Better late than never, I suppose, but it makes one wonder about the amazing amount of Churn and hubris that goes into medical care that just now raises these issues. The doctors and hospitals interested in looking at their systems from the outside in, from the patient’s perspective, seemingly for the first time, are reducing the number of times patients are woken up in the middle of the night for unnecessary checks, giving medication during the day rather than in the middle of the night, and actually starting to use the endless survey data that has heretofore just been stuffing up databases.

Hurrah, but if they fix too much of the Matterlessness that routinely greases the medical wheels, what will we have to make fun of, just airlines?

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Shutting Off Comments

One of the fundamental tenets of working with social media is that they are fundamentally conversational vehicles.  Someone says something and anyone out there can answer back. Not always civilly, but generally so. The biggest threat to organizations in a social world is not multiple voices but silence. Silence means irrelevance.

Tablet, an online publication, created a new policy this week. According to Capital New YorkTablet has changed it’s commenting policy because, “the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse)…”

Again, according to Capital New York, Tablet is among a growing list of media companies including Bloomberg and Popular Science that have turned off comments. “Moderating such forums is expensive for companies with limited resources, and a lot of reader conversations have moved to social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.”

But Tablet didn’t turn off comments, they are charging for them! The charge will b $2 a day, $18 a month and $180 a year. And the publisher made it clear that this isn’t a monetary decision, but a way, they believe, to make their comments more civil.

There are two issues here. The first is making it difficult to comment directly on the site. Disempowering readers by not allowing them to engage directly, presumably, with the author and publisher is antisocial in a world now set to social as the default setting. We have come to expect that we will be able to engage with journalists and publications directly.

Tablet generally gets a handful of comments on stories. A few get more, like the this article on interfaith marriage mentioned in the Capital New York article that received a lot for the site, 85 comments. My quick scan of the comments revealed absolutely nothing rude or offensive. Instead, there is a thread of agreers and disagreers – exactly what anyone designing a site would hope for.

A lack of civility shouldn’t be seen as a problem but an opportunity to engage the overwhelming majority of readers in an opportunity to help solve the problem. The fact that the perceived lack of civility by Tablet is a conversation stopper rather than a conversation starter tells us more about Tablet than about the web. Basically they view readers as a passive group of eyeballs rather than a community of smart, resourceful people able to help. By engaging the community as problem solvers, it is possible that Tablet may have found a reader or two out there that might have volunteered to help moderate the comments and block trolls.

Moderating comments makes a lot more sense to me than the solution that have unveiled of having commenters pay to comment. Trolls are very determined people, why would Tablet think that paying $2 would keep them away? The people they will lose are the people in the middle, the ones who don’t feel strongly either way and aren’t going to bother to pay to comment. So, really, all Tablet has done is let the extremists, both positive and negative, win.

I hope Tablet will rethink this policy. It’s a terrible idea. Instead, I hope they will come to view their larger readership as potential problem solvers and co-creators largely dedicated to civility.

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Readying Your Cause to Matter More to People

Book wheelIn discussing Matterness with people, I use the analogy of viewing the world through a backwards facing telescope. Inside looks huge, overwhelming really, while out there looks very small and irrelevant. By turning the telescope around to the way it is intended to be used, and making people on the outside matter more becomes the primary concern of the organization.

Great Nonprofits asked me to outline first steps for organizations that want to make their people matter more. Here is a link to the post on their site and here are the steps:

  1. Think Abundance. Do you spend more time in meetings discussing what could go wrong or what could go right? Is your organization afraid of what people out there could do to harm your organization, or are you excited about engaging in their natural creativity and enthusiasm? Are critics treated as whackadoodles intending to do harm or as friends who are frustrated and want you to do better?
  2. Start Speaking With Not At Your Constituents. Stop using social media to just broadcast messages at people and start using them to ask real questions the answers to which are important to your efforts.
  3. Work with Your Crowds. Get in conversation with your crowds wherever they are. Ask them to do something creative with you, learn something together, gather information and intelligence, co-create an event together – before your ask them to buy a ticket!
  4. Gather Your People On Land. Gather ten or so donors together in someone’s home and talk about your cause with them. Discuss whether and how you make them feel like they matter. Do your communications feel personal? Does it feel like you only communicate with them to ask for money? Are they learning more about the cause?
  5. Figure Out What Scares You Most About Social Media– And Do It. Find a friend to teach you how to tweet, and spend a half an hour a day on Twitter. Talk to a critic on your blog, directly, like a human being, for the world to see. Encourage your younger staffers to use social media to talk about the organization (with some ground rules and talking points) and let them make mistakes. The sky won’t fall – I promise.
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