I’ve been pondering, wondering and worrying about how to bring value out of ITANA.org to the world at large. I struck upon a metaphor over dinner with a friend at EDUCAUSE recently that brought my vision and the issues I’m pondering into sharp light for me at least.
I watched Captains Courageous, a wonderful 1937 film with Spencer Tracy, recently. This is a story about a spoiled boy who ends up on a fishing Schooner. The schooner would launch dories with fishermen aboard them. The dories would bring there catch back to the schooner where the fish would be processed and packed. The schooner would then bring the catch back to the mainland and to the public.
ITANA.org spins up sub-groups that work on a topic. These are the dories if you will. ITANA.org and its sponsors, EDUCAUSE and Internet2, act like the schooners and the delivery systems on the mainland.
If I take this as the operating principle for ITANA.org, then a variety of questions pop into my head:
- How do I make sure those sub-groups have the resources needed to bring back a meaningful deliverable?
- Who should be, as it were, on the dory doing the fishing? (It’s my metaphor and I’m sticking with it to the end – Jim)
- How do I make sure that the delivery from the sub-group to ITANA.org is a smooth as possible and as efficient as possible?
- How do I make sure that the sub-groups are working in fertile fishing grounds?
- How do I make sure that what we are delivering is what the mainland wants?
These are the things that I’m wrestling with as I get ITANA.org up and running.
I see a lot of interest and potential in the bright minds that participate in ITANA.org. We have great conversations. We generate interesting thoughts an comments. Those thoughts and comments get lost in the minutes from the phone calls or the hallway chats or the blog posts and notes from meetings. How do I turn those things into more meaningful deliverables?
Some thoughts that I’ve had on this topic:
- Each sub-team should have one person dedicated to gathering up content. They should pull responses out of the minutes and into a wiki page or section. They should glean the good stuff from the email chatter and add it to the wiki. They would be responsible for rolling-up all the various bits and pieces that go by into a single reference point.
- Each sub-team should have a set of deliverables as part of its charter. For example, the Data Management sub-team agreed to deliver a survey and the survey results.
- Each sub-team should produce some artifact(s) that can be shared with the world at large (e.g. a paper, or video or blog post) that others can consume on their own time.
- I/we should have a standard way of “publishing” these deliverables and a standard set of ways of getting the news out that they have been published.
- We should also be creative in our thoughts about how we engage beyond the core of ITANA.org. Where does Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the EDUCAUSE blogs and wikis, podcasts, screencasts, vodcasts, etc. fit into the mix?
That’s what I’ve been pondering. Anyone have input? I’d love to hear it.