Tag Archives: human service provider

Chris Zibailo: A hero in ICT and expectation management

Chris Zibailo, DSCI

This morning, I ran into a long-lost colleague whom I remember as a hero.  Or rather, Chris Zibailo recognized my voice, and ran over to reintroduce himself to me this morning.

Chris and I met in 1999, when I was the information systems manager at Family Service of Greater Boston (FSGB).  FSGB was in the middle of a big geographic transition; we had sold our headquarters on Beacon Hill, and moved our information systems, plus everything else, to temporary quarters in Downtown Crossing. We were now facing, for the second time in just under a year, a move to our permanent headquarters in Jackson Square.

Fortunately, I was reporting to the world’s best chief administrative officer for a nonprofit human service organization, Bill Chrisemer.  I should take a moment and acknowledge Bill as a hero as well, because he always did his utmost to help me succeed in supporting FSGB.

It was the right time for Bill and me to think about state of the art voice and data lines.  Enter Chris, with a promise on behalf on his firm that got our attention:  we suck less.

Chris is my hero, because he delivered extraordinary service; he not only managed our expectations perfectly, but exceeded them.  We not only received the information and communication technology components that were critical for our operations, but all the personal care that Chris could give us in a difficult move.  I remember a particularly harrowing moment, while planning the weekend cut-over of all services for the entire organization, when we realized that someone had to be at our Quincy satellite office to wait for and let in the Bell Atlantic workers.  It was a thankless task and one that might have entailed hours of waiting around, and our information systems team had already been assigned critical tasks.  Just as I remember the harrowing moment of that realization, I also remember my overwhelming feeling of gratitude and relief when Chris volunteered for the job, which most definitely was not in the contract for services that we signed with him.  We gave him the keys, he did this tedious task, and all was well.

Later that year, Bill Chrisemer left, I was diagnosed with cancer (and had successful surgery), and DSCI underwent some significant changes. It was a very tough time, partly because Family Service of Greater Boston’s organizational culture had changed. In 2000, I left FSGB to take a job as TechFoundation’s national nonprofit liaison officer, and in 2002, I left TF to become a solo consultant.  I had lost touch with Chris, and heard a rumor that he had left his firm, but I still thought of him as the gold standard whenever I dealt with telephone and internet service providers on behalf of my clients.

Fast forward to this morning.  Imagine my delight when Chris caught up with me!  Delight was piled on delight when Chris told me that the acquisition of his firm, those many years ago, was not satisfactory, so he and his colleagues banded together to invest in DSCI and turn it into a hosted communication and connectivity service provider for the 21st century.

Kudos to you, Chris.  You’re still my hero.

My idea of fun

annkissam

caring it forward

 

I had a lovely time on Wednesday at the Providers Council conference and expo.  All told, I put in about six hours at the Annkissam table, along with Kevin Palmer and Matteo Ramos-MucciAs previously mentioned, Annkissam underwrote my time at the conference, so that I could provide pro bono strategic tech consultations on site and on demand.

It was fun.

I enjoyed the challenge of improvising the best possible assistance for each human service provider who sat down for a brief consultation.  I’m not sure I could do thirty-minute consultations all day and every day, but it was very satisfying day.

Other aspects of the conference that I enjoyed were the company of members of the Annkissam team, meeting the other exhibitors, chatting with acquaintances as they passed by our table, and striking up conversations with total strangers as they stopped to ask about what we were featuring: Annkissam’s services, NPO Connect, and on-the-spot pro bono assistance.

One phenomenon that interested me greatly was the response of total strangers to the idea that Annkissam was interested in offering strategic technology assistance that was free from cost, obligation, or sales pitches.  The responses appeared to include suspicion, incredulity, confusion, apathy, relief, and joy.  I can understand that it’s hard for someone who doesn’t know me or the folks from Annkissam to comprehend that they might get anything other than a sales pitch and a piece of candy when visiting the table.  Naturally, the passers-by who already knew us had no trouble with the concept.

It’s going to take a lot of repetition before the idea of pro bono strategic technology consultations at conferences for nonprofit professionals becomes a commonplace, but as long as it’s fun, I’m more than willing to keep at it.

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