Tag Archives: crisis

What I Learned Solving a Business Crisis

What I Learned Solving a Business Crisis

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

By 2006 we knew we had a serious problem. Our company’s onetime flagship product, called Afisha, was in a steady decline and it was becoming all too clear that something had to be done. What had once been a market leader that generated huge profits, which fueled the growth of our company had slowly, but surely, lost its market position.

It was clear that the business was in crisis, but nobody was exactly sure what to do about it. Operationally, nothing had really changed. We still believed in our product and our people. Nevertheless, the marketplace had evolved and our business model, which once had seemed bulletproof, was no longer viable.

We didn’t know it at the time, but Afisha’s brightest days were still ahead. We were able to reimagine the business model, strengthen the brand and return to profitability. What we learned is that solving a crisis is not a straightforward linear process, but a journey of discovery. You never know what you’ll find so you need to be willing to experiment.

Acknowledging The Problem

As I explained in Mapping Innovation, when Afisha came out in 2000, it was an immediate hit. At its core, it was simply a guide to restaurants, nightlife and other entertainment, somewhat similar to Timeout. Its restaurant, music and movie columnists quickly became tastemakers in Kyiv, while its sex advice column, achieved a cult-level status. Ad dollars soon came rolling in

In 2006, all of those elements that had made Afisha successful were still in place, but the business environment had changed significantly. The ad market, which had been worth less than $100 million dollars in 2000, was now quickly approaching a billion dollars. Strong multinational publishers like Hearst, Hachette and Rodale had begun investing heavily into Ukrainian versions of top international titles like Cosmopolitan, Elle and Men’s Health.

What we had to accept was that Afisha, although still popular with readers, was no longer a dominant brand. At the same time, the free distribution model which it had once depended on to quickly achieve wide readership was now seen as a liability among advertisers. That diminished our ability to command top ad rates while, at the same time, the booming media market sent our editorial costs through the roof.

None of this happened all at once, so it was easy to believe that Afisha was just going through a temporary downturn. It was only when we were able to acknowledge that our once-successful model had become fundamentally broken that we were able to start moving forward.

Assembling A Broad-Based Team

Once we had acknowledged the problem we assembled a meeting to come up with a strategy to move forward. This included the publisher and editor-in-chief of Afisha, several of the key staff, our company founder, me (as CEO) as well as several company leaders outside of Afisha who had specific knowledge and skills and who were widely respected.

The composition of the meeting was important. Clearly, the Afisha team had to be deeply involved in the process. Having the company founder and me there made it clear that the business had the full backing of the executive leadership. However, in many ways, it was those outside the core Afisha team who had critical impacts.

For the Afisha team and the executive leadership, the business model was so familiar it seemed almost like second-hand. Bringing in other leaders from around the company helped us look at the business in new ways. They asked questions that challenged us, made observations that we hadn’t seen and suggested things that wouldn’t have occurred to us.

Identifying Issues And Developing Options

As the working group met and got down to business, we began to identify problems. First, as noted above, the competitive landscape had shifted dramatically and, although Afisha remained a beloved brand, international titles had taken away significant market share. Second, the free distribution model was no longer financially viable.

As we discussed options, we were able to quickly build consensus on two actions. We would redesign the magazine and the website to beef up the editorial content and better compete with the international titles. We would also look for partners to license Afisha to other cities in Ukraine and create a more national brand.

We also came up with a third option that was considerably more speculative. For years, we had been giving paid subscribers Afisha cards to receive discounts at local merchants. We thought that we could add value to the card by creating an event calendar that was exclusive to Afisha card holders.

Our reasoning was that if we could increase subscribers through upgrading the Afisha card, we could reduce our reliance on free distribution and improve the economics of the business. It seemed like a longshot, but it was also low risk. All we had to do was sign up some partners for events and publish an event calendar in the magazine and on the website.

Finding The Unexpected

The editorial and licensing strategies, which seemed like no brainers, were, at best, mildly successful. Readers seemed to like the new design and expanded editorial content, but then again they liked the old Afisha too. We were able to set up licenses for five major Ukrainian cities, giving up close to national coverage, but the licensees struggled to earn a profit.

The Afisha card strategy, on the other hand, was an unexpected hit. We had hoped to be able to do one event a week, but were soon so deluged with partners that we had to limit events to one per day. From happy hours and shopping nights to club openings and movie festivals, it seemed like everybody wanted to work with us.

Before we knew it, we were able to upgrade events from a promotional activity to a seriously profitable business. We organized a nationwide Frisbee contest for a beer launch, a French movie festival for an upscale coffee brand and organized party trips with sponsors. To our amazement, the business just grew and grew.

What we learned from the experience is that you can’t plan your way out of a crisis. If we were able to plan effectively, we wouldn’t have been in the crisis in the first place. Our success wasn’t the product of our own brilliance, but our willingness to experiment. That’s how we came across the “happy accident” that led to the events business.

The truth is that it takes some bad luck to get into a crisis and it takes some good luck to get out of one. Sound management can help stem the bleeding, but if you are ever going to rebuild a successful business, you have to experiment and allow for the unexpected.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to join 17,000+ leaders getting Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to their inbox every week.

Why Change Failure Occurs

Why Change Failure Occurs

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

Never has the need for transformation been so dire or so clear. Still, that’s no guarantee that we will muster the wisdom to make the changes we need to. After all, President Bush warned us about the risks of a global pandemic way back in 2005 and, in the end, we were left wholly vulnerable and exposed.

It’s not like pandemics are the only thing to worry about either. A 2018 climate assessment warns of major economic impacts unless we make some serious shifts. Public debt, already high before the current crisis, is now exploding upwards. Our electricity grid is insecure and vulnerable to cyberattack. The list goes on.

All too often, we assume that mere necessity can drive change forward, yet history has shown that not to be the case. There’s a reason why nations fail and businesses go bankrupt. The truth is that if a change is important, some people won’t like it and they will work to undermine it in underhanded and insidious ways. That’s what we need to overcome.

A Short History Of Change

For most of history, until the industrial revolution, people existed as they had for millennia and could live their entire lives without seeing much change. They farmed or herded for a living, used animals for power and rarely travelled far from home. Even in the 20th century, most people worked in an industry that changed little during their career.

In the 1980s, management consultants began to notice that industries were beginning to evolve more rapidly and firms that didn’t adapt would lose out in the marketplace. One famous case study showed how Burroughs moved aggressively into electronic computing and prospered while its competitor NCR lagged and faded into obscurity.

In 1983, McKinsey consultant Julien Phillips published a paper in the journal, Human Resource Management, that described an “adoption penalty” for firms that didn’t adapt to changes in the marketplace quickly enough. His ideas became McKinsey’s first change management model that it sold to clients.

Yet consider that research shows in 1975, during the period Phillips studied, 83% of the average US corporation’s assets were tangible, such as plant, machinery and buildings, while by 2015, 84% of corporate assets were intangible, such as licenses, patents and human capital. In other words, change today involves mostly people, their knowledge and behaviors than it does strategic assets.

Clearly, that changes the game entirely.

What Change Looks Like Today

Think about how America was transformed after World War II. We created the Interstate Highway System to tie our nation together. We established a new scientific infrastructure that made us a technological superpower. We built airports, shopping malls and department stores. We even sent a man to the moon.

Despite the enormous impact of these accomplishments, none of those things demanded that people had to dramatically change their behavior. Nobody had to drive on an Interstate highway, work in a lab, travel in space or move to the suburbs. Many chose to do those things, but others did not and paid little or no penalty for their failure to change with the times.

Today the story is vastly different. A crisis like Covid-19 required us to significantly alter our behavior and, not surprisingly, some people didn’t like it and resisted. We could, as individuals, choose to wear a mask, but if others didn’t follow suit the danger remained. We can, as a society, invest billions in a vaccine, but if a significant portion don’t take it, the virus will continue to mutate at a rapid rate, undermining the effectiveness of the entire enterprise.

Organizations face similar challenges. Sure they invest in tangible assets, such as plant and equipment, but any significant change will involve changing people’s beliefs and behaviors and that is a different matter altogether. Today, even technological transformations have a significant human component.

Making Room For Identity And Dignity

In the early 19th century, a movement of textile workers known as the Luddites smashed machines to protest the new, automated mode of work. As skilled workers, they saw their way of life being destroyed in the name of progress because the new technology could make fabrics faster and cheaper with less workers of lower skill.

Today, “Luddite” has become a pejorative term to describe people who are unable or unwilling to accept technological change. Many observers point out that the rise of industry created new and different jobs and increased overall prosperity. Yet that largely misses the point. Weavers were skilled artisans who worked for years to hone their craft. What they did wasn’t just a job, it was who they were and what they took pride in.

One of the great misconceptions of our modern age is that people make decisions based on rational calculations of utility and that, by engineering the right incentives, we can control behavior. Yet people are far more than economic entities, They crave dignity and recognition, to be valued, in other words, as ends in themselves rather than as merely means to an end.

That’s why changing behaviors can be such a tricky thing. While some may see being told to wear a mask or socially distance as simply doing what “science says,” for others it is an imposition on their identity and dignity from outside their community. Perhaps not surprisingly, they rebel and demand to have their right to choose be recognized.

Building Change On Common Ground

The biggest misconception about change is that once people understand it, they will embrace and so the best way to drive change forward is to explain the need for change in a very convincing and persuasive way. Change, in this view, is essentially a communication exercise and the right combination of words and images is all that is required.

Yet as should be clear by now that is clearly not true. People will often oppose change because it asks them to alter their identity. The Luddites didn’t just oppose textile machinery on economic grounds, but because it failed to recognize their skills as weavers. People don’t necessarily oppose wearing masks because they are “anti-science,” but because they resent having their behavior mandated from outside their community.

In other words, change is always, at some level, about what people value. That’s why to bring change about you need to identify shared values that reaffirm, rather than undermine, people’s sense of identity. Recognition is often a more powerful incentive than even financial rewards. In the final analysis, lasting change always needs to be built on common ground.

Over the next decade, we will undergo some of the most profound shifts in history, encompassing technology, resources, migration patterns and demography and, if we are to compete, we will need to achieve enormous transformation in business and society. Whether we are able to do that or not depends less on economics or “science” than it does on our ability to trust each other again.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pexels

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Innovation in Times of Crisis

Navigating Uncertainty and Driving Change

Innovation in Times of Crisis

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In times of crisis, businesses often face unprecedented challenges that demand swift and strategic action. The ability to innovate and adapt becomes crucial for survival and growth. While uncertainty may abound during periods of crisis, organizations that can harness their creativity and resilience can emerge stronger and more sustainable than before.

Case Study 1: Netflix

One of the most iconic examples of innovation in times of crisis is Netflix. The streaming giant started as a DVD-rental-by-mail service in the late 90s but faced an existential threat with the rise of online streaming and piracy. Instead of clinging to its outdated business model, Netflix pivoted towards streaming and original content production. This bold move paid off, and today Netflix is one of the leading streaming platforms globally, with a market value exceeding traditional media giants. By embracing change and constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, Netflix transformed itself into a powerhouse in the entertainment industry.

Case Study 2: Airbnb

The travel industry was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, with borders closed and travel restrictions in place worldwide. Airbnb, a disruptor in the hospitality industry, faced a significant drop in bookings and revenue. However, instead of succumbing to the crisis, Airbnb seized the opportunity to innovate and cater to changing consumer preferences. The company introduced new services such as virtual experiences and long-term stays to accommodate the shift towards remote work and online activities. This adaptability and forward-thinking approach enabled Airbnb to weather the storm and position itself for future success when travel resumes to normalcy.

Key Takeaways:

In times of crisis, innovation is not a luxury but a necessity for organizations to survive and thrive. To navigate uncertainty and drive change effectively, businesses must cultivate a culture of innovation, embrace risk-taking, and be open to re-imagining their business models. The case studies of Netflix and Airbnb demonstrate that successful innovation in times of crisis requires vision, agility, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. By learning from these examples and applying the lessons to their own contexts, organizations can harness the power of innovation to emerge stronger and more resilient in the face of adversity.

SPECIAL BONUS: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Change Planning in Times of Crisis

Navigating Uncertainty and Building Resilience

Change Planning in Times of Crisis

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In times of crisis, organizations are faced with unprecedented challenges that require swift and strategic action. The ability to adapt and thrive in the face of uncertainty is a crucial skill that can make or break a business. Change planning is key to managing these transitions effectively and building resilience for the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a stark reminder of the importance of effective change planning in times of crisis. Businesses across the globe were forced to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, from transitioning to remote work to radically transforming their business models. Those that were able to navigate this uncertainty with agility and resilience emerged stronger on the other side.

Case Study 1: Airbnb

One such example is Airbnb, a company that faced significant disruption to its business during the pandemic. With travel restrictions in place and a dramatic drop in tourism, Airbnb had to quickly pivot its strategy to survive. By focusing on local stays and experiences, the company was able to adapt to the new reality and maintain its customer base. Through effective change planning, Airbnb demonstrated resilience in the face of crisis.

Case Study 2: Target

Another case study of successful change planning in times of crisis is that of Target, a retail giant that weathered the storm during the 2008 financial crisis. By prioritizing customer needs, streamlining operations, and focusing on innovation, Target was able to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. The company’s strategic approach to change planning enabled it to not only survive the economic downturn but also thrive in the aftermath.

So, what are the key principles of effective change planning in times of crisis? Firstly, organizations must embrace agility and flexibility, being willing to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Secondly, leaders must prioritize communication and transparency, keeping employees informed and engaged throughout the change process. Lastly, businesses must focus on innovation and customer-centric strategies to stay ahead of the curve and drive growth in uncertain times.


Navigating uncertainty and building resilience in times of crisis requires strategic change planning and a proactive approach to managing disruption. By learning from case studies like Airbnb and Target, organizations can develop the resilience needed to thrive in the face of adversity. The ability to adapt, innovate, and prioritize customer needs is key to surviving and succeeding in challenging times. By embracing change planning as a core competency, businesses can weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

Bottom line: The Change Planning Toolkit™ is grounded in extensive research and proven methodologies, providing users with a reliable and evidence-based approach to change management. The toolkit offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources that guide users through each stage of the change planning process, enabling them to develop effective strategies and navigate potential obstacles with confidence.

Image credit: Pexels

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Change Leadership in Times of Crisis

Lessons from Successful Leaders

Change Leadership in Times of Crisis

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change is inevitable, and crises often provide the catalyst for transformation. In times of crisis, leaders face unique challenges that demand effective change leadership strategies to steer their organizations towards success. Drawing inspiration from the experiences of successful leaders, this article presents two case studies that highlight the lessons learned in leading change during times of crisis. These examples demonstrate the importance of agility, resilience, and empathy in navigating through tumultuous periods and emerging stronger on the other side.

Case Study 1: Indra Nooyi – Pepsico’s Journey Towards Healthier Products

In 2006, Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo at the time, identified a pressing need for change amidst growing concerns about obesity and the negative health effects associated with calorie-rich sugary drinks and snacks. PepsiCo’s traditional product portfolio centered around these items, posing a significant challenge for transformation. However, Nooyi’s visionary leadership led to a successful change initiative that transformed PepsiCo into a more health-conscious company.

Lessons Learned:

1. Embrace a Bold Vision: Nooyi recognized the need to adapt to changing consumer preferences, showing the importance of a clear and ambitious vision for change in times of crisis.
2. Invest in Innovation: Under Nooyi’s leadership, PepsiCo committed to investing in healthier snacks and beverages and acquired brands like Quaker Oats to diversify its product range. This illustrates the necessity of investing in innovation to adapt and stay ahead of the competition during crises.

Case Study 2: Satya Nadella – Microsoft’s Shift to a Cloud-Focused Company

When Satya Nadella took the reins as Microsoft’s CEO in 2014, the tech giant faced challenges brought about by the declining PC market and increasing competition from new entrants. Recognizing the urgent need for change, Nadella initiated a transformation towards a cloud-first and mobile-first ethos, revamping the company’s entire strategy and culture.

Lessons Learned:

1. Foster a Growth Mindset: Nadella embraced a growth mindset that encourages continuous learning, agility, and flexibility. This mindset allowed Microsoft to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics and invest in cloud-based technologies, propelling the organization ahead during times of crisis.
2. Empower Employees: Nadella focused on empowering employees to excel and innovate, emphasizing collaboration and inclusive leadership. This approach fostered a culture of change and resilience within Microsoft.


These case studies highlight the critical role of change leadership in times of crisis and provide valuable lessons for leaders facing similar challenges. Indra Nooyi’s transformation of PepsiCo towards healthier products exemplifies the importance of embracing a bold vision and investing in innovation during tumultuous periods. Satya Nadella’s leadership at Microsoft demonstrates the value of fostering a growth mindset and empowering employees to adapt to changing circumstances successfully.

Ultimately, successful change leadership during crises requires a combination of strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, and the ability to inspire and motivate teams. By learning from the experiences of visionary leaders like Nooyi and Nadella, leaders can navigate uncertainty, inspire their organizations, and emerge stronger from times of crisis.

Bottom line: The Change Planning Toolkit™ is grounded in extensive research and proven methodologies, providing users with a reliable and evidence-based approach to change management. The toolkit offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources that guide users through each stage of the change planning process, enabling them to develop effective strategies and navigate potential obstacles with confidence.

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Change Management in Times of Crisis

Strategies for Adaptation and Recovery

Change Management in Times of Crisis

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Change management is crucial for organizations to navigate through times of crisis. Whether it is a global pandemic, economic downturn, or natural disaster, having effective strategies for adaptation and recovery is essential. In this article, we will discuss the importance of change management during a crisis and provide two case study examples to showcase successful strategies implemented by organizations.

Case Study 1: Procter & Gamble (P&G)

During the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, P&G, a multinational consumer goods company, faced the challenge of declining consumer spending. They realized the need for immediate action to adapt and recover, focusing on cost reduction and portfolio optimization. P&G implemented a change management strategy that included the following steps:

1. Engaging the Leadership: P&G’s leadership embraced the crisis and communicated the urgency for change throughout the organization. They provided a clear vision of the desired outcome and inspired employees to embrace the necessary changes.

2. Streamlining Operations: P&G reexamined their business processes and streamlined operations to eliminate inefficiencies and reduce costs. They implemented a ‘simplify to win’ approach, which involved consolidating product lines and optimizing the supply chain.

3. Enhancing Innovation and Marketing: P&G recognized the need to differentiate themselves from competitors during tough times. They focused on innovation and marketing efforts, launching new products and advertising campaigns to maintain consumer interest and loyalty.

The result of P&G’s change management strategy was significant. Despite the challenging economic conditions, the company managed to maintain profitability and even outperformed competitors by gaining market share. This successful adaptation and recovery showcased the effectiveness of a well-planned change management strategy during a crisis.

Case Study 2: Airbnb

In 2020, the travel industry faced an unprecedented crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries imposed travel restrictions and people canceled their travel plans, Airbnb, a leading vacation rental platform, experienced a massive decline in bookings. To overcome this crisis, Airbnb employed a change management strategy focused on the following steps:

1. Prioritizing Safety: Airbnb acted swiftly to address safety concerns by introducing enhanced cleaning protocols and implementing strict guidelines to ensure guest and host safety. They communicated these measures transparently to rebuild trust among their users.

2. Diversifying Offerings: Recognizing the changing demand for accommodations, Airbnb expanded its offerings beyond traditional vacation rentals. They introduced Online Experiences, allowing hosts to offer virtual experiences to users staying at home. This diversification strategy helped them adapt to the changing needs of consumers during the crisis.

3. Empowering Hosts: Airbnb acknowledged the impact of the crisis on their hosts, who heavily rely on income from rentals. They introduced initiatives such as the Host Relief Fund, which provided support and financial assistance to struggling hosts. By actively involving and supporting their hosts, Airbnb built resilience within their community.

As a result of their change management strategy, Airbnb managed to rebound effectively. By September 2020, they had a successful IPO and demonstrated resilience in the face of a crisis that severely impacted the travel industry.


Change management is instrumental in helping organizations adapt and recover during times of crisis. The case studies of Procter & Gamble and Airbnb demonstrate effective strategies implemented to navigate through difficult times. By engaging leadership, streamlining operations, enhancing innovation, prioritizing safety, diversifying offerings, and empowering stakeholders, organizations can improve their chances of successfully adapting and recovering from crises. It is crucial for organizations to embrace change and implement proactive strategies to not only survive but also thrive amidst adversity.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Building Virtual Diplomacy

Building Virtual DiplomacyThe Setup

Lets look at Innovation, Crowdsourcing, and the United States Government for a minute…

The world continues to move faster than ever and diplomatic responses from the United States are required that are both increasingly more complex and more urgent, and the required solutions must address the inherent situational challenges while also protecting the interests of the United States and its allies. To deal with this diplomatic reality, the United States State Department is embracing the principles of crowdsourcing, eGovernment, and open innovation and partnering with America’s best universities to help solve the World’s biggest challenges as part of a new initiative called Diplomacy Lab. I found the following after meandering through a bread crumb trail of tweets from @AlecJRoss (Hillary Clinton’s former Chief Innovation Officer):

Diplomacy Lab is designed to address two priorities: first, Secretary Kerry’s determination to engage the American people in the work of diplomacy. And second, the imperative to broaden the State Department’s research base in response to a proliferation of complex global challenges. The initiative enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty experts at universities across the country. Students participating in Diplomacy Lab explore real-world challenges identified by the Department and work under the guidance of faculty members who are authorities in their fields. This initiative allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process while helping the State Department tap into an underutilized reservoir of intellectual capital. Teams that develop exceptional results and ideas are recognized for their work and may be invited to brief senior State Department officials on their findings.

This then led to me to information about another digital diplomacy program.

US State Department Harnesses Interns Around the Globe to Address Digital Needs

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure, the United States State Department introduced an eIntern program, as detailed on the State Department web site:

Virtual Student Foreign ServiceThe Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the U.S. Commercial Service domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. This introductory video provides an overview of the VSFS program.

VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities will vary according to the location and needs of the VSFS projects identified at the sponsoring domestic or overseas diplomatic office. VSFS projects may be research based, contributing to reports on issues such as human rights, economics or the environment. They may also be more technology oriented, such as working on web pages, or helping produce electronic journals. Selected students are expected to work virtually on an average of 5-10 hours per week on VSFS eInternship projects. Students apply in the summer and if selected, begin the eInternship that fall lasting through spring. Most work and projects are internet-based and some have language requirements. Past projects asked students to:

  • Develop and implement a public relations campaign using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc. to communicate and reach out to youth
  • Conduct research on the economic situation, prepare graphic representations of economic data, and prepare informational material for the U.S. Embassy website
  • Create a system to gather and analyze media coverage on a set of topics including environment, health, and trade
  • Develop a series of professional instructional video clips to be published by the U.S. Embassy
  • Survey social media efforts of U.S. diplomatic posts, NGOs, and private companies around the world to help establish best practices in a U.S. Embassy’s social media outreach business plan.

The Conclusion

It is fascinating to see the world changing before our eyes and to see the children and young people of today engaged in commerce and government and entrepreneurship in ways that weren’t available to previous generations of young people. This only helps to accelerate the pace of change. But, the reality is that when an organization sits at the fork in the road and is making the decision of whether or not to actively engage people outside their four walls in their strategic efforts, the choice really is to either ride the crest of the wave by embracing and engaging talent outside your organization or choosing instead to get tumbled and drowned by this wave of progress by doing nothing.

What choice is your government or your organization making?

If you’re not sure how your government or your organization needs to change to adapt to these changing realities, check out my previous article:

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?

Build a common language of innovation on your team

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.