Cognitive Flexibility Theory is about preparing people to select, adapt, and combine knowledge and experience in new ways to deal with situations that are different than the ones they have encountered before,” says Rand Spiro of Michigan State University.
The non-profit landscape changed significantly in the last ten years. Digital and social media provides new opportunities for transparency, customization, and interaction between non-profits and their supporters and volunteers.
While some newer non-profits have leveraged these changes, many have been insulating themselves from these changes. 43% of non-profits currently spend $0 on social media.
A lack of understanding of these new tools as well as feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, and under-resourced keep many from moving forward. Yet it’s clear that unless executives and leaders deeply integrate these tools into every part of their organization (marketing, fundraising, HR, etc), they are headed for decline and irrelevancy.
“There are always new contexts and you just can’t rely on old templates. Cognitive security is what people want. It doesn’t work in the modern world of work and life.”–Rand Spiro
Fortunately many opportunities to explore digital media abound, and the cost and effort to get started is close to zero. A common practice for non-profits who find themselves frozen is to start a Facebook Page or Twitter account without formally announcing or promoting it, and to start posting and measuring their success.
This can provide the space to innovate and freedom to fail, encouraging those in the organization who value digital media, and demonstrating to the decision makers the value of investing in it’s implementation.
Someone has to start the process. In ministries and non-profits it’s often someone on the fringe of the organization. Leaders looking for these digital champions can perform a Twitter search or see if anyone has created a Facebook group or page for their organization.
Change can start to gain momentum once their is at least one executive and one digital champion working together.