The “Accidental Techie”

Derek Houseworth of Houseworth Consulting taught us a new phrase during his presentation at the April Brown Bag, Nonprofit Technology Management. “Accidental Techie.” Derek introduced us to the term from the book, “The Accidental Techie,”** defining the phrase as the person typically with the least fear and/or greatest dependence on technology. It’s the person who un-jams the printer, teaches the office how to do a mail merge, has a Facebook account and know the most about the term “server.” This person was also not hired to be the Director of All Things Technology. This person was hired for a different aspect of the nonprofit’s mission.

Good, said Derek. Adding these technology tasks to this person’s job description will further strengthen the nonprofit’s technology systems. Derek encouraged us to give this “Accidental Techie” formal responsibility and authority for routine and strategic technology decisions. This staff member should also be given training, a budget, and outside assistance.

In a world where outsourcing is common, training the “Accidental Techie” may seem odd. However, this staff person understands how the organization uses technology to further its mission. This staff person also understands how their colleagues view and use the technology. An outside expert can come in, and set up an effective, but complex computer network. However, if the staff members are wary of the technology change, the expert will unlikely be as available as the “Accidental Techie” in assisting the staff with their routine technology tasks. That’s why it is more desirable to move current staff into a technology roles, according to Derek.

** Preview “The Accidental Techie” here.

Also, the National Nonprofit Technology Conference has posted free webinars of their sessions:
http://www.slideshare.net/event/2010-nonprofit-technology-conference/slideshows

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