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Stronger together:
how to build your
cross-team content
engine
Perry Hewitt
aligning content teams can be hard
“Easter Eggs” by maptagsde is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Assumptions
Flawed governance
Inadequate training
Few cross-team
connections
And more...
another kind of
“magical thinking”
Magical Thinking Actual Reality
1. The number of hours in a day
2. The human inclination to work in
tribes / silos / trusted groups
IDEATION AND PLANNING
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
FEEDING THE
BEAST
IDEATION AND PLANNING
Goal:
● Ensure content strategy is on executive
stakeholder radar.
Tactic / tool:
● Create and socialize a roles and
responsibilities document. Fight for it to live
beyond product launch.
IDEATION AND PLANNING
This example from Meet Content / Rick Allen
includes useful Roles and Responsibilities
questions, like:
● Does every role have defined responsibilities?
Does everyone understand their
responsibilities?
● What are the knowledge gaps? Is there
expertise that is not adequately supported by
those involved in the publishing process?
● Are there adequate staff resources to support
your content strategy?
● Does everyone understand how his or her
work relates to and affects others?
IDEATION AND PLANNING
I would add:
● What role will the Product Owner play, on an
ongoing basis, to promote cross-team
collaboration around content?
● What role will HR play? How can we loop them
in for awareness of hiring criteria and training
as content teams evolve?
● Once we’ve established what skills gaps are /
training needed, who will advocate for gaining
those skills?
● Do we have a shared bar for what “excellent”
or even “good enough” looks like, and who will
contribute to keeping us aligned?
Food for thought:
Align around high standards
Building a culture of high standards is well worth the
effort, and there are many benefits. Naturally and most
obviously, you’re going to build better products and
services for customers – this would be reason enough!
Perhaps a little less obvious: people are drawn to high
standards – they help with recruiting and retention.
More subtle: a culture of high standards is protective of
all the “invisible” but crucial work that goes on in every
company. I’m talking about the work that no one sees.
The work that gets done when no one is watching. In a
high standards culture, doing that work well is its own
reward – it’s part of what it means to be a professional.
https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312518121161/d456916dex991.htm
IDEATION AND PLANNING
Goal:
● Engage your peers to define the tools you will
use for cross-team communication.
Tactic / tool:
● Survey and interview content-responsible
peers: what’s best for talking and learning?
Just by asking the question, you’ve built a
bridge.
IDEATION AND PLANNING
IDEATION AND PLANNING
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
FEEDING THE
BEAST
Goal:
● Drive attention to administrative interface to
improve all content managers’ workflow.
Tactic / tool:
● Spend time observing your users’ workflow
for similar products. How does a piece of
content get posted? Where are the assets
stored, and what is their retrieval process?
How are they using rollback and version
history? What’s confusing or intuitive to
them?
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
Goal:
● Build a shared understanding of content and
data sources and their readiness.
Tactic / tool:
● Build a draft content/data source checklist,
and shop it around to other departments to
surface hidden assumptions.
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
Sample checklist:
❏ Make sure you have the definitive list of
content/data to be integrated.
❏ How often is the source content updated?
❏ Whether manual or auto, have plan for updated or
removed source content
❏ What format will the content be in?
❏ Build in flexibility to handle format variations
❏ Have a fall-back plan for integration failure (network,
content source down, etc.)
❏ Allow for manual override where possible
❏ Determine whether it will be manual or
automated.
❏ Complexity of source content
❏ Amount of content and frequency of content updates
IDEATION AND PLANNING
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
FEEDING THE
BEAST
Goal:
● Build a community of practice to sustain
connections and learning among content
creators.
Tactic / tool:
● Get started with peer-to-peer, and budget for
experts. Make the case to executive
stakeholders of the value of community in
hiring, retention, and quality output.
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
Digital Academy:
● Different captains
● Project manager
● External and internal
voices
● Different venues
● Both formal presentations
and poster sessions
● Food!
Goal:
● Ensure content is at the table as a product
stakeholder in the design phase.
Tactic / tool:
● Consider using “content priority guides”
rather than typical wireframes.
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
https://alistapart.com/article/priority-guides-a-content-first-alternative-to-wireframes
Goal:
● Get a shared, cross-team understanding of
content analytics during this build phase.
Tactic / tool:
● Identify what "actions" are possible -- which
content can be adjusted, then ensure the
analytics reports enough data to help support
these "actions."
● Figure out the business insights required
from analytics for all the content teams.
● Use a checklist for what makes a good
analytics practice and defining goals.
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
Sample checklist:
❏ How are we integrating content performance
analytics across social / mobile / web?
❏ Are there shared dashboards in Data Studio
or similar? Are these regularly reviewed /
publicly displayed?
❏ What does MVP reporting look like:
maximum insight and minimum clutter?
❏ Are teams making the same inferences based
on the data?
❏ How are insights being translated back into
content team actions? Shared with executive
suite? Aligned with revenue goals?
Goal:
● Get a shared, cross-team understanding of
accessibility -- to develop empathy for users
and a culture of holding content teams
accountable.
Tactic / tool:
● Bring in native user of assistive tech to speak
to content creators across teams.
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
IDEATION AND PLANNING
DISCOVERY AND
PREPARATION
DESIGN AND
DEVELOPMENT
FEEDING THE
BEAST
Goal:
● Whether you chose a centralized, hybrid, or
decentralized web publishing model, it’s
important to see where workflow is
succeeding or failing.
Tactic / tool:
● Conduct a content governance health check.
FEEDING THE BEAST
FEEDING THE BEAST
Governance health check session:
● Pre-select two content workflows: one that went
well, and one that encountered challenges.
● Invite 5-7 participants: creators, reviewers,
stakeholders.
● Appoint a facilitator / moderator for the session
-- ideally, someone not in the workflow.
● In the meeting, track the path of each piece of
content. What happened and why?
● Develop a hypothesis of the impact on
governance guidelines, standards, and tools, and
share with broader team.
FEEDING THE BEAST Goal:
● Keep creativity flowing back and forth among
groups.
Tactic / tool:
● Create excitement and energy by holding
quick design studio workshops to solve a
problem.
FEEDING THE BEAST
FEEDING THE BEAST Goal:
● Build trust through an “exchange of
hostages”.
Tactic / tool:
● Explore a secondment model. Look at peer
roles across the org and see how “trading
places” might work. A day a week? A
six-month stint?
Magical Thinking →
Actual Reality
Perry Hewitt
@perryhewitt | perryhewitt@gmail.com

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Build cross-team content engine with roles, tools, community

  • 1. Stronger together: how to build your cross-team content engine Perry Hewitt
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  • 5. “Easter Eggs” by maptagsde is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Assumptions Flawed governance Inadequate training Few cross-team connections And more...
  • 7. Magical Thinking Actual Reality 1. The number of hours in a day 2. The human inclination to work in tribes / silos / trusted groups
  • 8. IDEATION AND PLANNING DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT FEEDING THE BEAST
  • 9. IDEATION AND PLANNING Goal: ● Ensure content strategy is on executive stakeholder radar. Tactic / tool: ● Create and socialize a roles and responsibilities document. Fight for it to live beyond product launch.
  • 10. IDEATION AND PLANNING This example from Meet Content / Rick Allen includes useful Roles and Responsibilities questions, like: ● Does every role have defined responsibilities? Does everyone understand their responsibilities? ● What are the knowledge gaps? Is there expertise that is not adequately supported by those involved in the publishing process? ● Are there adequate staff resources to support your content strategy? ● Does everyone understand how his or her work relates to and affects others?
  • 11. IDEATION AND PLANNING I would add: ● What role will the Product Owner play, on an ongoing basis, to promote cross-team collaboration around content? ● What role will HR play? How can we loop them in for awareness of hiring criteria and training as content teams evolve? ● Once we’ve established what skills gaps are / training needed, who will advocate for gaining those skills? ● Do we have a shared bar for what “excellent” or even “good enough” looks like, and who will contribute to keeping us aligned?
  • 12. Food for thought: Align around high standards
  • 13. Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits. Naturally and most obviously, you’re going to build better products and services for customers – this would be reason enough! Perhaps a little less obvious: people are drawn to high standards – they help with recruiting and retention. More subtle: a culture of high standards is protective of all the “invisible” but crucial work that goes on in every company. I’m talking about the work that no one sees. The work that gets done when no one is watching. In a high standards culture, doing that work well is its own reward – it’s part of what it means to be a professional. https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312518121161/d456916dex991.htm
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  • 15. IDEATION AND PLANNING Goal: ● Engage your peers to define the tools you will use for cross-team communication. Tactic / tool: ● Survey and interview content-responsible peers: what’s best for talking and learning? Just by asking the question, you’ve built a bridge.
  • 17. IDEATION AND PLANNING DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT FEEDING THE BEAST
  • 18. Goal: ● Drive attention to administrative interface to improve all content managers’ workflow. Tactic / tool: ● Spend time observing your users’ workflow for similar products. How does a piece of content get posted? Where are the assets stored, and what is their retrieval process? How are they using rollback and version history? What’s confusing or intuitive to them? DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION
  • 20. DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION Goal: ● Build a shared understanding of content and data sources and their readiness. Tactic / tool: ● Build a draft content/data source checklist, and shop it around to other departments to surface hidden assumptions.
  • 21. DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION Sample checklist: ❏ Make sure you have the definitive list of content/data to be integrated. ❏ How often is the source content updated? ❏ Whether manual or auto, have plan for updated or removed source content ❏ What format will the content be in? ❏ Build in flexibility to handle format variations ❏ Have a fall-back plan for integration failure (network, content source down, etc.) ❏ Allow for manual override where possible ❏ Determine whether it will be manual or automated. ❏ Complexity of source content ❏ Amount of content and frequency of content updates
  • 22. IDEATION AND PLANNING DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT FEEDING THE BEAST
  • 23. Goal: ● Build a community of practice to sustain connections and learning among content creators. Tactic / tool: ● Get started with peer-to-peer, and budget for experts. Make the case to executive stakeholders of the value of community in hiring, retention, and quality output. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
  • 24. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT Digital Academy: ● Different captains ● Project manager ● External and internal voices ● Different venues ● Both formal presentations and poster sessions ● Food!
  • 25. Goal: ● Ensure content is at the table as a product stakeholder in the design phase. Tactic / tool: ● Consider using “content priority guides” rather than typical wireframes. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
  • 27. Goal: ● Get a shared, cross-team understanding of content analytics during this build phase. Tactic / tool: ● Identify what "actions" are possible -- which content can be adjusted, then ensure the analytics reports enough data to help support these "actions." ● Figure out the business insights required from analytics for all the content teams. ● Use a checklist for what makes a good analytics practice and defining goals. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
  • 28. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT Sample checklist: ❏ How are we integrating content performance analytics across social / mobile / web? ❏ Are there shared dashboards in Data Studio or similar? Are these regularly reviewed / publicly displayed? ❏ What does MVP reporting look like: maximum insight and minimum clutter? ❏ Are teams making the same inferences based on the data? ❏ How are insights being translated back into content team actions? Shared with executive suite? Aligned with revenue goals?
  • 29. Goal: ● Get a shared, cross-team understanding of accessibility -- to develop empathy for users and a culture of holding content teams accountable. Tactic / tool: ● Bring in native user of assistive tech to speak to content creators across teams. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
  • 31. IDEATION AND PLANNING DISCOVERY AND PREPARATION DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT FEEDING THE BEAST
  • 32. Goal: ● Whether you chose a centralized, hybrid, or decentralized web publishing model, it’s important to see where workflow is succeeding or failing. Tactic / tool: ● Conduct a content governance health check. FEEDING THE BEAST
  • 33. FEEDING THE BEAST Governance health check session: ● Pre-select two content workflows: one that went well, and one that encountered challenges. ● Invite 5-7 participants: creators, reviewers, stakeholders. ● Appoint a facilitator / moderator for the session -- ideally, someone not in the workflow. ● In the meeting, track the path of each piece of content. What happened and why? ● Develop a hypothesis of the impact on governance guidelines, standards, and tools, and share with broader team.
  • 34. FEEDING THE BEAST Goal: ● Keep creativity flowing back and forth among groups. Tactic / tool: ● Create excitement and energy by holding quick design studio workshops to solve a problem.
  • 36. FEEDING THE BEAST Goal: ● Build trust through an “exchange of hostages”. Tactic / tool: ● Explore a secondment model. Look at peer roles across the org and see how “trading places” might work. A day a week? A six-month stint?
  • 38. Perry Hewitt @perryhewitt | perryhewitt@gmail.com