Archive for October, 2010

First post

October 4, 2010

Hard days are the worst. You bust your butt, and then at the end it just doesn’t seem like enough. No one seems happy with the work and in some cases, people are actually mad. Not mad because you didn’t do the work well, but mad because you didn’t do the work the way they wanted it done.

That’s an important thing to consider. It’s not the experience–not how well you craft the experience–if the customer, if the person consuming it isn’t happy with it. I’ve been having some hard days lately. One of my intermediary consumers–my chain of experience is fairly long–hasn’t been happy with the experience of working with me lately. It’s not been that I haven’t given him exactly what he wanted–we worked very closely together to get him exactly what he asked for–it’s that I gave him too much, too quickly of what he wanted. I overwhelmed him and did a poor job of gauging his ability to consume what I was giving him. He wanted a slower, continuous flow of inputs and I gave him a glut. He wanted me to work on a process, I worked from a deadline.

The ensuing friction between us–I’m drained and strained and ready to move to something else; he’s overwhelmed and frustrated and wishes I would have done it differently–hasn’t been pleasant. In the end, it might not even matter since we’re not the final consumers of the experience we are working to create for others–so our styles to get the work done are different but the result is likely to be the same. Part of the problem is that we are both fairly successful in what we do and have definite ways of approaching projects. Usually, we have a great deal of admiration and respect for each others work and work ethic and this is the first real time in six months of working together that we’ve really disagreed with each other. Importantly, this isn’t a relationship breaker, but it is an important learning experience–at least for me.

Because I’ve titled this blog “Involved Experience” I think that experience is an ongoing, never finished, not perfect process. There is bound to be stress involved because we are creating for others and with others–it’s important to acknowledge both since sometimes you really are creating for someone to consume and sometimes you are creating with others for consumption. One is obviously more involved. More involvement, more opportunity for stress. In this case, because there is a strong bond (or many strong reasons for us to be bonded with each other) between us, we can have a higher level of stress in our experience with each other–creating experiences with each other for others. It’s sort of like the bank–you might not always like each other (me when the bank’s website goes down, or when they randomly send me new debit cards, shut off the old ones, and then shut off the new ones before a long holiday weekend; or for me when I don’t buy any of their products–no overdrafts, no CD’s, no credit cards–so they make nothing from me) but you usually enjoy the benefits of working with each other.

I’m writing this blog because when I read really great blogs in the nonprofit space about Social Innovation or Leadership or fund raising, I don’t usually have anything to add to the conversation. When I do have something to add, it usually falls into one of two categories: 1) my experience with experience; or 2) my experience of being involved in something. Going back to my days in college, I can see now that I spent a lot of time observing, thinking, writing and participating in the creation of experiences.

Increasingly, the world we live in is mediated–this is not a new phenomenon–by technology. I think that trend will continue, but we’re still humans. The energy that has been released by the technology that some worry has made us lazy, weak and personally isolated is the energy that is being used to create new experiences that used to take a lot more work to pull off. I have a broad definition of experience–it’s all experience really. But my main focus is around the creation of value especially in the nonprofit and social sector-how we excel, fail and where we can innovate and improve. I work for a great nonprofit that creates extremely interesting experiences for a broad range of stakeholders. We create multiple levels of value for people all the time, but we can do better. I’m a fund raiser, but that’s really just a fancy way of saying that we create a good experience so that people give us money and resources. While we value that, tremendously, what we really value is the involvement, the experiences that others help us to create and that we get to give to others to share. If I could do this for free, I would. But, because that is a resource constraint–and that is extremely critical to my perspective–for me personally, and us organizationally, we have to be innovative, creative and quick. To the point–I would do this for free, but I don’t know if we could do it if it were free.