I just finished reading a book called Relevance – Making Stuff That Matters by Tim Manners. The book explored the topic of relevance and provided case studies of how brands achieve and maintain relevance.
It talked about how brands communicate using focus groups, surveys, and other research techniques. The author called this controlled communication, defined as communication that is initiated by the organization and ends once a goal is achieved. The book then explained how relevance is a byproduct of listening. When you listen, you find out what truly matters.
Dell and American Idol were highlighted as two examples of organizations that make it a habit to actually listen. Dell allows you to custom design computers to your specific needs. American Idol, of course, allows you to vote for America’s next singing idol.
I know that comparing nonprofits to for-profit organizations (or a TV show) is not necessarily an apples to apples comparison but there are some similarities. As a program officer the greatest similarity I see is the constant need to make your product/service/mission relevant to customers/clients/the community.
Let’s keep listening. When we listen, we make stuff (programs and services) that matters.