Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Black Hat

As Jocelyn mentioned in a September Post , the NPower staff had a day of “organizational alchemy” with consultant Rhea Blanken. One of the first exercises we undertook was based around De Bono’s thinking hats concept – we were asked to identify the hat that best fit us, and speculate on what hat best described our co-workers.

It’s no mistake that I self-identified as a Black Hat – and one of my co-workers remarked “he’s not just A black hat – he is THE BLACK HAT.” The black hat is the pessimist, the guy who tells you why it can’t be done; or at the very least, why it’s going to be supremely difficult. I guess that’s me!

I’ve been reviewing a presentation I made on technology planning at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement last May, and now I am wincing at the “black – hattedness” of it: for instance, the first two minutes of the presentation are a rant about the weakness of PowerPoint as a teaching tool, and why some people won’t get anything out of the presentation. Ack!

(This rant turns out to be strangely prescient when the LCD projector bursts into flames; but I digress.)

The bulk of the presentation deals primarily with assessing whether an organization is ready for change in the first place; maybe 20% of the presentation actually deals with nuts-and-bolts technology planning. Takeaway: if an organization refuses to change, what’s the point of making plans? (At this point, queue the sound of Jocelyn’s teeth grinding …)

Anyway, here we are: Jocelyn, NPower’s quintessential Green Hat (with bits of yellow blended in), our creative type, our marketer supreme, and our optimist, has invited a Black Hat curmudgeon to contribute to this blog. As we push forward together to fulfill NPower’s mission and bring high-quality online IT support to DC area nonprofits, I hope to comment on recurrent technology themes (problems?) that we run into as we support an expanding list of clients.

When YOU read these posts (and I hope you will) please keep in mind that I am THE BLACK HAT, here to point out the obstacles and throw cold water on the happy parade; but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to save the world. We should acknowledge where we need to improve and work smarter! Our world deserves nothing less.

I’d like to think I’m more of a navigator than a pessimist, actually. Thanks for reading!

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