When an international non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. taps into the power of social collaboration, transformational change is bound to happen. At Pact, more than 95% of our roughly 3,000 employees are dispersed across 25 countries, from Cambodia to Zimbabwe, supporting poor and marginalized communities to take ownership over their own futures. Our staff, as well as our local partners, are now empowered to exchange information and expertise across borders and time zones thanks to our Jive-powered community that we call Mosaic.
During our 42-year history, Pact has helped millions of people transform their lives for the better through programs emphasizing local solutions, partnerships and measurable results. To be successful in achieving our mission, we must work collaboratively with a variety of local stakeholders, from small community groups to national governments. Collaboration, learning and knowledge sharing are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s essential that we have the best tools available to help us work more efficiently and effectively.
Moving to our own self service model
In the NGO (or non-governmental organization) sector, the pace of change can often be slow. Old ways of doing things and project structures that differ by country can hamper adoption of innovative approaches and new technologies. We are also focused on keeping overhead costs to a minimum, making it essential that any new technology we introduce requires minimal upkeep and support. Before the launch of our Jive community, content on the intranet or in shared drives was mostly out of date and difficult to find. This was frustrating for everyone, but perhaps most of all for our non-US-based staff who didn’t have the luxury of walking over to this or that department here in DC to ask where the needed information could be found.
Snapshot of the Mosaic homepage
The inability to access information when it was most needed sometimes triggered animosity between country program staff and headquarters. People here in D.C. would insist they sent an email or posted a document to the intranet while our country staff complained they hadn’t seen it or couldn’t find it when they needed it. Additionally, many of our country teams needed to share information with partners outside the organization as a project requirement but lacked a simple tool to do this. Often at project start-up there would be a several months-long discussion around what platform would be used for collaboration with external partners and consultants, how it would be paid for, and who would support it. Now, they just start a group on Mosaic, invite external collaborators, and in one afternoon they’re up and running. They don’t have to ask anybody, they just do it, and our small team can easily support them.
Mosaic has been the catalyst for a rapid cultural transformation at Pact. As the person responsible for launching our community, I have seen our organization do a complete turn-around since we introduced Jive in mid-2013. Now, regardless of where they sit, our staff is able to share information and knowledge and engage in meaningful conversations up and down the chain of command, from drivers in field offices to the executive team. Someone in Tanzania who has never visited another Pact office can now easily engage with colleagues based in another country who they’ve never met by simply logging in to Jive. For the first time our staff, regardless of how remote their location, have a sense of being part of a broader community, something that was severely lacking before the site was launched.
We’re definitely a more service-oriented culture now, with people being more thoughtful about how they structure and supply information. They put it into an attractive page, tag it with key words to make it easily searchable, promote it in our weekly email newsletter, and people are just coming and serving themselves. And content is more interactive. Not only can someone access a policy but they can ask questions about it or provide suggestions on how it can be improved.
We’ve also seen significant changes in how we develop proposals. Obtaining funding from donors is critical to our mission and now we are using Jive as our proposal development platform. Proposal managers are happy because versions are easily tracked and in one place and our subject matter experts are happy because they can easily get up to speed on multiple proposals without having to comb through old emails. And perhaps most significantly, now all of the conversations and decisions around a proposal are automatically captured, archived and searchable.
These changes are 100 percent attributable to the Jive platform and Pact’s organizational philosophy on openness and transparency of information that drives it.
Getting the most passionate voices heard
Staff members who are most passionate about information and knowledge sharing have just gone gangbusters with Jive. They’ve taken the technology and run with it. And through their actions they’ve become visible champions for the values and work approaches that we’re hoping to instill across the organization. Before Mosaic, if I was the CEO sitting in D.C., I would have a hard time finding out who my most passionate employees were around the world, especially below the leadership level. I wouldn’t have daily contact with their work and I couldn’t see what’s going on.
But now there are clear leaders emerging and they’re visible to everyone; it’s transparent. These are the people being invited to engage in global working groups and initiatives to address larger organizational issues.
One of our earliest use cases for Jive was to facilitate virtual collaboration among our “communities of practice” or CoPs. CoPs were a long-held tradition at Pact – voluntary groups of like-minded professionals working on similar issues who wanted to exchange lessons and tools and collaborate on solutions. Before Jive, CoP collaboration was limited to expensive annual in-person meetings and unwieldy group emails. Now every single one of our communities has a home on Mosaic and three new communities have formed since the site launched.
The fact that our CEO or anyone from the senior leadership team can dip into any group and see not just what our staff is doing but what our project partners are talking about and working on is just amazing. They can get a quick read on what issues are being discussed and challenges raised, and even jump in and take part in the conversation.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Jive has propelled Pact into a new era of working more collaboratively and transparently. What’s most exciting is that this shift is not just benefiting our staff, but the thousands of partner organizations and communities that we work with around the world. Now that’s cool.
Recent training visit to our Ukraine office