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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Meeting with The Digital Movement

After a screw-up in scheduling the last time, I finally got around to meeting a few people from The Digital Movement (TDM). In all honesty, I thought that this would be a meet-and-greet session. So I cheerfully headed down to TCC at Boat Quay with little expectation and preparation.

It turns out that it was a full-blown planning session! That caught me off-guard, which left me in the wrong frame of mind. Part of the time, I kept wondering what I was doing there. Given my workload, I really need to scale back on stuff, so the last thing I was looking for was getting deeply involved with another organisation.

On the other hand, this was a forward-thinking, (Web) technology-driven organisation comprising of young, enthusiastic, passionate people. Thus, I opted to stick around to hear them out. Anyway, I wasn't the only "new bird" there, so I didn't feel out of place.

After introducing ourselves, we got down to the task at hand. Apparently, after the successes of Nexus 2007, BlogOut and iX Conference, the next logical thing to do was... start all over again. Which, I guess, makes sense, because now that it had some credibility, it should refocus its priorities.

Unfortunately, to me, it seemed that things were going everywhere and nowhere. Ideas were coming in about what to do next, who to get the message out to (sort of), and things that I thought were too detailed and specific at that point in time.

What left me most confounded was that there seemed to be very little direction, in spite of having three professional business-types there:
  • a chief technology officer at a local video technology solutions provider,
  • an analyst who assesses technology business start-ups, and
  • a business veteran who's launched or advised a couple of businesses.
I kept waiting for one of them to say, "Whoa, stop everything. Let's backtrack for a moment and re-establish the fundamentals of TDM."

Nope, nothing like that. Nada. Zip. I wasn't sure if this was how entrepreneurs work in Singapore, you know, jump in, sink or swim. It sure didn't make much sense to me.

So when it came to my mind to voice my $0.02, I asked three questions which I thought should have been asked from the beginning:
  1. How many members does TDM have? (Answer: about 20.)
  2. What's the objective of the group? (Answer: "Err, that's why we're here!" Also, to build a community, promote Web 2.0 and social media in Singapore.)
  3. What kind of resources does it have, whether financial or networks? (Answer: there are a couple of connections from which funds can be accessed.)
Aside: I am starting to become more irritated by the word "community" than "Web 2.0".

My rationale for asking these came from two areas: I'm heavily influenced by my work, and I knew what it was like to waste half a day going around in circles. The latter became especially evident when re-establishing ECO Singapore. After we had crystallised its vision (and subsequently mission and goals), everything else fell into place. It was that simple!

My other big question, which I didn't voice out initially, was about its target audience. Yes, again, that's marketing-speak, but I think it make sense. For an organisation that's not rolling in money, it has very limited resources to carry out its mission. So I thought it needed to focus on a core group of people, then think about expanding that group as TDM grew and had more resources. But it couldn't know who this core audience was without a clearly defined objective.

I gave this analogy: the discussion so far seemed like TDM was throwing darts randomly as a bunch, and these were sticking all over the board. But what was really desired was to make all of the darts hit the bull's eye.

Yet, after two-and-a-half hours there, I still couldn't see that bull's eye! Maybe as a "new bird", I didn't know anything about TDM, which would be a fair assumption. And maybe I had missed something in the discussion itself.

When I left, they asked me for any parting words. And I said:
"Figure out your objectives and target audience."
I'd be interested to know what was achieved following my departure.



Peter said...

Hi Yuhui, thanks for coming down today. I am sorry for not being able to make you understand the things that well. As TDM has entered a new phase of change and development, we are committed to the changes we encounter. We were actually discussing our fundamental goals and missions in the morning, and we are resolved to have a new vision with a higher standard very soon. So please be patient with us and feedback to us using a post like this.


Nicholas Aaron Khoo said...

Hi there Yuhui,

Nice to meet you today though we didn't get a chance to chat much.

I'm first time there myself, and my goals was more to listen than to really drive / direct anything; much less to try comment critically especially when I don't have the full picture. So yes, I sat through the thing trying to observe, learn, and chip in whatever little I can without jumping ahead of the gun.

Anyways, I agreed with you on getting a defined Mission / Vision / Values, just did not want to assume there wasn't any.

But I felt your question on resource was not so fair to TDM especially coming from someone with an NGO background yourself.

We are all here to learn, and to me part of the learning process is not to judge first or try to tackle a problem with pre-conceived ideas/notions of how it should work. Coz I've seen that happen a few times and people completely miss the mark because they thought they knew better.

But rather listen, see, observe.

That's my two cents. Cheers!

Yuhui said...

Peter: I guess I didn't feel that the mission and goals (and shouldn't the vision come first?) weren't communicated clearly, especially with "new birds" around. That's why I felt lost and aimless.

Nick: Actually, I thought asking about resources is very valid for an NGO, because it can't afford to spread itself too thin. Anyway, as mentioned above, perhaps things didn't seem too clear for me, thus my puzzlement throughout the afternoon.

Meow said...

Hi Yuhui! Thanks for dropping by yesterday. I must say that is a very interesting question that you had on resources.

Our approach has always been -

Ok, what are the resources we will need to achieve the goals we want? Lets go get them!

As opposed to -

What can we do given our current resources?

I think vison is a overrated thing. It is very easy to come out with a vision, but to come out with a shared vision is the tough one, and that was what we were trying to do yesterday, together with the team, and a couple of external insights.

Lastly, thanks for your comments. will explain properly that it was a brainstorming session next time round!

Yuhui said...

Hi Meow (err, who are you? Your Blogger profile is blank.),

My approach for asking about resources is that it helps to understand what the group can build on. Like I had mentioned at the session, though you may not have any money, but if you know who to get money from, then that's a resource that you have. And I was pretty satisfied with the answer to this question.

Regarding a vision being overrated, I think it's easy to think that it's true. But without an "end state", any entity will just be existing aimlessly, won't it?

Meow said...

haha, ming yeow here.

resources, definitely got lah, but that would be for a seperate meeting.

vision, do you agree with what i perceive to be the difference between a vision and a shared vision?

a vision is of course easy to form, a shared vision is what everyone comes out with, through a series of discussions and projects.

as nic said, it will take some time, so we are looking for people who have the capacity and capability to sit together with us to come out with a shared vision together.

Yuhui said...

Hi Ming Yeow, as I had written here, I feel that if a vision can be established, then everything else will follow smoothly. Instead, what I experienced that afternoon was that we were discussing about what TDM can do, etc. without really knowing where it's going. It's like putting the cart before the horse. So then the afternoon could've been better spent hammering out the (shared) vision before going into other details. Hope that makes sense.

Nicholas Aaron Khoo said...

Hi Yuhui,

Thanks for your reply :)

Actually I feel for most NGOs (with the exception of the NKFs)resources will always be an issue thus I agree in a way with Ming Yeow "what are the resources we need to do what we wanna do"?

But your comment-replies here to the TDM team are fair - I also agree with a strongly communicated mission vision and values so that people know what you are about and how to fall in line or support you.

Cheers :)

Yuhui said...

Hey Nick, thanks for your comments too. Given your background, I appreciate that you have a different perspective on all this from me.

passerby said...

ecl is the biggest winner because she gave uyzn $200 for the cake. Uyzn accepted $200 from ecl is a fact. So what did he accept fm veron for best blog of the year?

uzyn said ecl is a loser after she became the biggest winner. So why is he shielding a bigger loser who only win 2 awards?

the awards by are for losers? uyzn took back ecl's 4 trophies oredi wat. Who is the meanest and biggest loser in

Yuhui said...

Hi passerby, I think you left your comment in the wrong entry. You might want to re-post it.

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