A few weeks ago, Michelle traveled to Miami for The Gathering of Leaders.
In a recent staff meeting, she shared a stories from the road.
She told us that a highlight of the event was hearing David Plouffe and Dan Heath speak.
David Plouffe talked about the successes of the Obama Campaign and what intrigued Michelle was his suggestion that the innovations employed by Obama’s campaign staff are likely to seem archaic and antiquated just a few years from now given the rapid rate at which technology is changing.
Like many, Plouffe predicts that our social technology use will soon happen primarily through our mobile phones.
Because we’re so often hearingthat this is the way things will go, it has us wondering…
What innovation and collaboration should volunteer organizations undertake to ensure that volunteers can access information about project opportunities via their phones?
HandsOn’s partnership with Snap Impact currently makes the network’s project data available on mobiles via an iPhone app, but what’s next?
How can nonprofits stay nimble and current — particularly in a down economy?
Michelle also shared Dan Heath’s comments about how to motivate people to change. Heath’s comments were drawn from his latest book Switch.
In the first chapter of his book, Heath conjures the image of the Mahout (the rider), the Elephant and the Path as an analogy for our ability to influence change, .
As Anecdote so aptly put it, “Changing behavior involves a struggle between our rational and well-reasoned thinking and our emotional urges. The mahout represents the rational and reasoned. If the mahout clearly understands where he needs to go he’ll direct his charge that way.
The elephant represents emotional urges. While the elephant might be happy to go the way the mahout directs, if she decides to go another direction there is not a single thing the mahout can do about it.
The path represents anything that might impede or assist the mahout and the elephant to get to where they are going. You want the path to be as easy to follow as possible.”
Image from The OM Room
Thinking about Switch in the context of volunteerism and service, we thought about ways to mobilize people at the intersection of their intellect and their emotion.
Heath calls this intersection a “bright spot.”
Heath talked about a young doctor who traveled to Vietnam to try to help decrease the infant mortality rate.
He was one man, without organizational support or funding, who believed he could make a difference.
He began in a single village, by noting which of the community’s children were the healthiest.
He asked all the mothers in the village what they were feeding their children and noted the things that the mothers of the healthiest children were doing differently.
By doing this, he understood what they were already doing that worked.
Then he encouraged all the mothers in the village to do those things more diligently, more frequently.
Within twenty years, this doctor was able to demonstrate a dramatic improvement in infant health and nutrition in Vietnam.
His story made us ask ourselves how his example might translate into the work all of us do as volunteers.
How might we focus our efforts by capitalizing on things that are already working and helping them to grow?