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CONCLUSIONS


tcn and WAJF
see a "kick-off"
meeting as a
"must do" for future Circuit Rider programs.

[Circuit Riders]

DID WE RIDE TO ANY CONCLUSIONS?
You bet.

1. We should have started off with a bang.
For most LEV-ZEV advocates, the Circuit Rider came from out of the blue. They encountered the networking project with little foreknowledge. Less commitment. That was our fault.

Although tcn had produced a conference in June 1995 for the W. Alton Jones Foundation which included CEO's, CFO's, and IS managers from the major environmental advocates and funders, few LEV-ZEV advocates attended. "Kick-off" events—perhaps in California and New England—would have served us well. Face-to-face introductions would have given the Circuit Rider a chance to discuss and clarify goals. Define a direction. Establish initial steps. Build some consensus.

At the very least, the Circuit Rider would have had a head start in building rapport with the LEV-ZEV advocates along his route. So both tcn and WAJF see a "kick-off" meeting as a "must do" for future Circuit Rider programs of the LEV-ZEV order.

Provide Circuit Riders with the modest funds to provide a "mini-grant" on a dire-need basis.

2. Circuit Rider needs "mad money"—a pool to dip into for software and hardware mini-grants.
On this project, the Circuit Rider had to make the best of many a bad situation. Always had to cope with resources at hand.

The budget had no money for "equipment," so we made a conscious decision not to buy computer stuff for the LEV-ZEV advocates. "Hardware poor" participants like Environmental Advocates were left wanting. Peter Iwanowicz of Environmental Advocates had to wait six months for easy e-mail because he lacked the $100 needed for a modem.

The obvious remedy? Provide Circuit Riders with the modest funds to provide a "mini-grant" on a dire-need basis. Then for the lack of a modem, progress won't be sidelined.

"Circuit Rider projects are best organized around a specific issue or initiative."

3. Start focused. Stay focused.
Circuit Rider projects are best organized around a specific issue or initiative. A rifle, not a shotgun approach.

In fact, it was important that we didn't approach the whole enviro-universe with the news that they needed better ways to communicate. We approached a select group (LEV-ZEV) with a narrowly focused goal. It proved to be the smart way to go. For one thing, it took the focus off the Circuit Rider. And it meant that he didn't have to generate all the momentum.

The LEV-ZEVers already had reason enough to communicate—a common goal. The Circuit Rider was just there to make interaction easier and more effective. As a driver, not a destination.

Finally, all the LEV-ZEV advocates had a lot in common. Not just their enviro interests. But their size. Their need for communications. Their ways of communicating. And that made working for them and dealing with their problems much easier.

"Few are using what they have. Fewer, still, effectively."







"LEV-ZEV zeroed in on training because, for many, it was the only training available."

4. Few are using what they have. Fewer, still, effectively.
It doesn't perform in the box. Or on the shelf. Or in the hands of someone who hasn't had proper training. Perhaps that's not so much a lesson as a fact. But it's also a fact that many of the advocates the Circuit Rider serviced were, indeed, better equipped than informed or trained.

In fact, training became vitally important to the project's success. Yes, NESCAUM's brand new PowerMacs could have been real productivity boosters. But NESCAUM had no internal or Internet e-mail. No desktop fax software. And one very slow modem. So the PowerMacs were powerless.

The Planning and Conservation League (PCL) exemplified the training gap. Its staff had never been trained on how to use the computers and software in front of them. PCL's Media and Outreach Coordinator had no idea how to leverage the full capabilities of Windows. Not her fault. PCL just didn't provide computer training for its staff. So even limited resources went unexploited.

In short, LEV-ZEV zeroed in on training because, for many, it was the only training available. That's one benefit that will serve advocates forever. And though it's unquantifiable in hours and cents, it's sure to increase efficiency organization-wide. And that pays!

"An organization's successful, effective use of information technology parallels management's commitment to it."

5. Management makes it or breaks it.
It starts at the top or it never gets started at all. An organization's successful, effective use of information technology parallels management's commitment to it. And involvement in it.

In short, it takes a "can-do" attitude within leadership. It was true of NESCAUM. True of NRCM. True of EA.

A good case in point was Coalition for Clean Air (CCA). CCA's Director had more will than wallet. She couldn't afford the level of e-mail she wanted for her staff. Still, she encouraged them to take full advantage of the resources we had to offer. Her cheerleading led to wide acceptance and use of e-mail. And staff quickly came to realize that the Web could enhance their work across the board.

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