Saturday, December 09, 2006

Shining a Light on Technology Stewardship

Between the ongoing work on the Technology for Communities report (someday, I promise, it will be done) my ongoing interest in individuals' and groups' technology configurations, client work and conversations with friends, particularly John Smith, BevTrayner, and David Wilcox. I have been evolving my understanding of what it means to "steward technology" for groups and networks.

This article, Web 2.0 Nonprofit 2.0 Widgets Org 2.0 Second Life jumped out for me as the words of a technology steward. In the article, Allan Benamer, a non profit IT director talks about focus when considering new tools, particularly the wave of "web 2.0" that often smashes us upon the shore more than carries us to new heights.

If you look at the language Benamer uses, it is attentive to the impacts of technology choices to his or her organization. It displays a community perspective, rather than just a technology perspective Here are a few examples:

  • Always look for new tech opportunities AFTER your learn the business.
  • Believe it or not, the people answering your phones at your front desk are quite often budding technologists.
  • Do not dismiss real concerns about work load.
  • Operate on the principle that all new gadgetry will in turn, create a cultural shift.
  • New stuff has to be demonstrably better than the old stuff.

Another article, flagged by Beth Kanter, a steward informs the non profit view of technology stewardship, gives a view in to a business technology stewardship perspective. Dave Pollard examines social networking with a focus on the activities that tools can support. This also strikes me as technology stewardship.

I think it is time to start tagging stuff with technology_stewardship. There are patterns to notice. Practices to talk about. What do you think?



Anonymous Beth said...


Do you have a definition of Technology Steward? Is it someone or a group within an organization or community who looks at technology critically in terms of realistic and authentic adoption? A group that displays a health degree of skepticism, but isn't so negative as to keep their organization from being adaptive and agile. Respectful of the potential of technology and thinks about its careful introduction.

Like "creative flow" is in midpoint between anxiety and boredom - is technology stewardship the midpoint between tech evangilism and being a ludite?

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Allan Benamer said...

Thank you for your kind words. I didn't know I was a technology steward but I think I can accept the tag! What I find fascinating in our sector is that so few people who actually implement IT are the ones blogging about Web 2.0. We're talking at cross-purposes and I hope to reconnect both sides in the future. Part of the problem I tend to have with technology is that so often people never take into account the cultural practices of an organization when they evangelize for something. What we really need is to evangelize the need for nonprofit managers to understand that their line staff are knowledge workers and not social worker drones. This is too hard at times and I think people take the easy route of Web 2.0 advocacy. I suggest that we would all be better off by showing up at nonprofit management events and telling nonprofit managers that their people are their most important asset.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Bev Trayner said...

ok... i've started :-)

1:51 PM  
Blogger Nancy White said...

Beth, we're working on a concise definition. Here is my first draft:

Technology Steward
The person or persons who take active leadership in the selection, configuration, support and maintenance of technologies to support the ongoing activities of their community along with developing and nurturing the practices for using those technologies. (I don't like the repeated use of support, but at the moment am lacking good alternatives).

Allan, I think your comment about the easy route is right on. It is so easy to be seduced by these cool toys!

Bev, I'll be looking for your tags!

5:05 PM  
Blogger Ashima Saigal said...

Nancy... it's clear that people play a key role in the adoption of IT in an organization. I like your Technology Stewardship concept. I'd welcome you to look at my blog at for my research analysis.


4:12 PM  

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