Every transformation effort requires a strategy - a plan for the activities and a clear vision to make it happen. When it comes to sustainable change, teams require a structured and systematic approach to ensure that people, processes, and technology are considered. Taking this broader view ensures that we think past common obstacles and shift thinking past a “project mentality”, into a “practice mentality”.
By Melissa Breker
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for a content team transformation, we can take a step back to understand the current state of the team to:
assess needs and requirements (based on skills, competency, and practices)
develop a clear vision for content based on goals and values
determine the shifts in structures and systems to make it happen
Obstacle 1: Understanding the power of vision
One of the biggest obstacles we face is having a clearly defined, actionable, and practical strategy.
As John Kotter points out in Leading Change (1996): “if we cannot communicate the vision in five minutes or less, and you don’t get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are in for trouble."
Without a clear vision, transformation efforts dissolve into a list of confusing, inconsistent or “busy work” content projects.
Often activities are misaligned. They miss the mark in making an impact on business and/or user goals
Obstacle 2: Interrupting “Business as Usual”
We are so busy doing "what we've always done", that we miss opportunities to rethink current systems and approaches to content.
Following well-established processes and workflows is easier than challenging the status quo. It's no surprise that people like to maintain current content practices and mindsets. After all, sticking to the routines is safe. Especially when it comes to our work.
Obstacle 3: Rigid business systems and structures
Often, it’s not just the team that needs to change. It’s the organisation itself. Rigid organisational structures also constrain how your business defines, creates, and delivers value to your audience.
The good news
There are a variety of tools and approaches that can help you overcome these obstacles, break down silos and align teams.
Creating a content governance approach (or content coalition), communicating common goals, and creating a shared vision can support changing perspectives.
Before you get started
Assessing your current situation and needs defines the requirements you’ll need to consider. For example, does your organisation need to adjust its product or service mix based on marketplace changes? Or are you trying to understand the role information plays in improving critical customer journeys to drive business growth?
R.A.D. Approach to planning
Regardless of what your organisation needs to achieve with its content team transformation, pre-planning activities remain the same.
Reflection of needs
Reflection boosts performance. As stated the Harvard Business Review, “reflecting on what you’ve done teaches you to do it better next time.”
This means setting time aside for self-reflection so you can plan and deliver a targeted mini-session with the team at kick-off.
These are some of the questions that can get you started:
How did we get here?
What have we tried?
Why are we doing this?
What do we want?
How do we know it's working?
How will we know it’s working?
What should we stop, start, and continue doing?
Assessment of current activities
Determining your criteria is the first part of knowing the current state of your situation. Are you assessing quality in terms of team communication? Is it about process or workflow? Or is it about the content topics? Determine readiness for change by considering impacts, risks and how to support people to move to a new way of working together.
Designing with intention
Once you've finished your assessment, you'll be able to go back to the team and work through different content collaboration activities.
These activities can reduce gaps and identify new opportunities for better collaboration. They may include:
a roadmap with roles, responsibilities, and capabilities to help determine the metrics you’ll need to measure for success
a communication ecosystem to share team preferences
a plan for changes in how you develop and deliver content and ways to share information to minimize disruption.
All change requires a collaborative approach that considers and evaluates different “actors” within a system.
Planning for and expecting change across content silos ensures that team members have stability and growth to plan form, take, and measure the right actions.
For transformation to occur, a new short, powerful, and persuasive perspective for the team to rally behind and support is required.
As Henry Ford once said: "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."
If you’re working with content, consider joining the Boye 19 Brooklyn conference in May to learn new ways to engage and support fellow team members and address common obstacles of change.