Toward an Engagement Ethos

I once had a professor who used a handful of favorite mantras.  One that he repeated most often went something like this:

“The things that made you successful up until now are not the things that will make you successful in the future.”

While that sounds counter-intuitive, it encompasses the notion that we have to change and evolve with the times and the contexts we’re in.

A similar theme recurred at the recent iMA conference. Sometimes the conversation focused on adapting to emerging tools, such as Amy Webb’s presentation about technology trends. Other times, the conversation focused on getting better at everything from innovation to collaboration to social media, leveraging networks, and creating multi-platform content.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. These conversations have one thing in common: the challenge to change and evolve with the times and contexts we’re in without compromising the things that made us successful in the first place.

More specifically, how do we maintain and reaffirm the skills and standards that help us successfully curate and distribute content of the highest standard while simultaneously developing the skills to successfully engage our communities and strengthen civic life?

With your help and CPB’s support, we’ve discovered that deeply engaged stations tend to behave in certain ways. They put the community first. They cultivate an engagement ethos–a mindset and internal culture for engagement. Some have always behaved this way–it’s in their organizational DNA. Others realized that future success required something different than past success. They changed who they are as an organization and their way of being a part of the community.

Making this change is hard work. Like change in our personal lives, changing organizational culture requires vigilance and a commitment to a core set of key behaviors. To learn more, watch this brief video. Then adopt an engagement ethos as the first step toward building even stronger stations, stronger local service, and stronger communities.

And that professor I had? He probably followed his own advice, which is what made him a good teacher and why I still remember his mantras.