Meeting People Where They Are
tl;dr: 10 yrs higher ed, 20 yrs mktg/tech background, BBA, MSIQ
Director of Digital Communications
University of Mary Washington (go Eagles!)
Manager of Web Communications & Marketing
Southern Arkansas University (go @Muleriders!)
Prior: web hosting, project management, ecommerce
MS Information Quality
College of Engineering & Information Technology
University of Arkansas at Little Rock (go Trojans!)
Information Quality (IQ)
Information quality is measured by
the fitness for use for its intended
Data of high quality…
1. …is a valuable asset
2. …can increase customer
3. …can improve revenues and
4. …can be a strategic competitive
consistency, timeliness, believability,
Data begins to decay as soon as the database is created, because
the real world objects associated with that data are always in
1. What will work in our
2. What will work given our
3. What small steps can we
take to begin building a
successful system of
governance inside existing
1. What could we do if the site
were better organized and
2. What can we NOT do
because our site isn’t better
• is collaborative, supportive, and transparent
• requires focus toward a long-term goal
• is accomplished by maximizing use of resources, documenting
goals and results, building buy in, and training best practices.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
...is about people, not process.
Governance Bill of Rights
• Help with and training on
tools and best practices
• Clear interpretation and
supported implementation of
• Assistance establishing goals
and success metrics
• Access to data and analysis
• Accessible content and
• Current information
supporting their ability to
perform necessary tasks
• Usable interfaces
• Access to support they
should never need
Web Process Framework
Fit for use
You are not doing this
wrong. Kristina Halvorson
Confab Higher Ed, 2013
Every step in the right
direction is a step in the
Every anxiety attack for the last 1.5 years.
Year of the - Mobile, social, responsive, This is the Year of the Human
HighEdWeb Red Stapler winner this year was Dave Cameron who presented on being more human at work.
We’re finally starting to see that everything we do is by and for people. IT’S MADE OF PEOPLE, PEOPLE!
Anyone else notice they put governance last?
Dr. Elmore said something about governance…tacked it on like he was sticking gum under the table. Even Kristina puts it last in her definition of content strategy.
Stop it. Stop it right now!
It is not an afterthought. It’s not this thing that happens after you’ve perfected processes and have all the guides and templates and models in place.
It’s collaborative. It’s integrated.
Realtalk: In the spirit of transparency, and so you guys don’t think I’m standing up here talking about governance and working in a utopia full of resources and glitter.
June 2013: Admissions evaluation. Preached iterative process. Got there and discovered 25,000 pages migrated wholesale in 2011 from Contribute (already outdated, incorrect), 250 barely trained content contributors, Siteimprove results that would cause most of us in this room to have grand mal panic attacks, 1 developer and me.
Bringing other people on board is the only option I have.
I’m going to give you a 2 minute MSIQ. That’s the program boiled down into 2 slides.
Measured by its fitness for use for the intended purpose.
Example: Data that might be viable for a call center might not be a good mailing list. Marketing data doesn’t translate to billing use.
The one that’s stuck with me the most. ----- Meeting Notes (11/13/14 22:18) ----- No such thing as set it and forget it.
So now replace “information” and “data” with “content” in all of these statements.
Hello academic, research based, validation for everything we do. MIT offers a Ph.D. in this, y’all!
So between the business degree, the IQ degree, working on the web, working in higher education, working in the public sector…I’m seeing all the governance.
So with all of this governance, why is nothing working the way it really needs to? Why do we see continued inefficiencies, broken processes, and missed opportunities?
Because politics is a thing…
…and resources are not. ---------------------- Nobody does. Not even Harvard, who with their Ivy status, huge endowments, and illustrious reputation STILL struggle with many of the same problems the rest of us have.
They just get to do it on a grander scale with more eyes on them. Sweet gig.
Keep the SHIP afloat. So let’s talk about governance when you’re doing well just to keep things moving, keep the ship afloat, so to speak.
PROCUREMENT CRAPALANCHE I think of our procurement process. It’s layers of bureaucracy and paperwork for the sake of bureaucracy and paperwork. It may have value, but mostly it’s just a crapalanche of work to slog through to accomplish something usually unrelated to paperwork and process.
DETRITUS Governance activities become another layer in the detritus that bogs us down and keeps us from doing our real work. A burden.
So what’s the SOLUTION?
Viva la revolution! Let’s just burn it all to the ground and build our utopian society!!
Alas, no, as much as I’m in favor of really great costumes and an epic chorus, I’m reasonably sure in higher ed the songs of angry men are reserved for the faculty senate.
Governance is like an onion. It makes people cry.
Georgy or Rick, I can take a check for the product placement.
At the bare minimum by complying with legal obligations and adhering to established best practices. That’s your baseline.
I’ve heard Lori Packer from the University of Rochester say, repeatedly, that the web is not a project because projects get completed. The web just goes on and on my friend. And so does governance.
Non invasive governance is not a project, because as we’ve seen, it doesn’t have an end. It’s also not a process, because we don’t want to create new bureaucracy, we want to adapt and adapt to existing processes.
I assert that governance, and especially non-invasive web governance, is a system.
Non invasive web governance is about fostering evolution, not revolution.
Asks What will work in our culture? What will work given our resources? What small steps can we take to begin building a successful system of governance inside existing processes and resources?
Kinda like spinach in a brownie.
Covey: 2nd habit of highly effective people: “begin with the end in mind” You’re at a toaster and I need you at a Caprica Six. You need to keep your eye on the prize, and one way to do that, given the unending nature of what we do, is to establish a mission statement.
Wednesday night Kristina retweeted this and I kinda died inside. Bye bye credibility.
Wow. A mission statement. That’s, um, deep. And boring. Zzzzz.
Mission statement – They’re not content. But you have to know what are you trying to accomplish in the long-term that drives your need for governance. It’s to keep you on track, not to broadcast to the world.
Assessment process meant I had to work with what I inherited. I was able to polish it down some, but it’s actually been a blessing in that it’s allowed me to redefine “effective” in ways that are meaningful to the institution given culture, goals, and our current political/economic ecosystem.
This also allows me to help define “effective” for individual sites. What are their success metrics? How does that help keep us moving toward our overall, institutional success metrics?
*mic drop* So that’s it, then. I’ve given you a mission statement and a pep talk about quality and evolution. Consider yourself equipped. You’re welcome.
Only, once you have a mission, you’ll need help. My rule of thumb, 20/60/20. 20% of your population will be totally on board. They’re just going to be happy to be involved.
Groot is all in. He’s eager to help out, and gets adorably excited when he’s done good. Water your Groot.
60% are going to be totally unconvinced you’ll find pirate treasure in the Goon docks, but they can be swayed with some evidence…or if not doing so gets them in more trouble with mom.
Use the success you find with the 20% to bring these folks along for the ride.
And as for Statler and Waldorf, well…haters gonna hate.
Just like you hate me for this joke. Good luck getting that out of your head.
This is the 42nd Taylor Swift reference I’ve heard at Confab this year.
Commencement speech: Going out into a world with no rulebook. Do work for free (backdrops for community theatre, sound mixing for friends music, design costumes, etc.), make things, support your friend’s projects, when you don’t know if you can, try.
Commencement speech: http://youtu.be/eA8XiC3m7vw
Same applies here. Help with their projects. Pick a measurement, a success metric, find ways to improve their outcomes.
Talk to them about why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Why are they doing what they’re doing?!? TEST. DO MORE WORK.
Fraud police. Imposter syndrome. Imaginary force of experts and grown-ups who are going to show up and call you out for having no idea what the hell you’re doing.
Who here feels like you’re completely making shit up as you go along and someone is eventually going to bust you out on it?
I’m about to blow your mind.
We are the fraud police to people who have no idea what they’re doing. They’re afraid we’re going to take their toys and tell them they’re not allowed to rent here anymore.
They’re just trying to make it through. Don’t deter them.
We can encourage them, through governance, by being collaborative, supportive, and transparent.
Build teams. – functional working groups. Give them the basic framework and needed outcome and let them decide how they’re going to get there.
Protip: load librarians into these groups. They’ll engage and can bridge the gap with academics. They can seriously be your best friends. You’re going to need allies.
What could we do if the site were better organized and managed? What can we NOT do because our site isn’t better governed?
Example: I need a collaborative content review process that helps identify opportunities for improvement, by continuing with the content audit we’ve had done with a consultant, and provides feedback to those responsible. I’m going to get someone in my web advisory council to help me populate and chair that group. We’ll establish a very simple process, train the volunteers, and move forward with regular meetings.
Once you have these teams, you have to get them to actually collaborate. You have to guidethem.
Marshmallow Challenge – Ted talk. Follow up: Build a Tower, Build a Team
Idea: tallest freestanding structure
Most groups fail at this because they’re all trying to be in charge.
The worst outcomes are by recent graduates of business school. The best are from kindergarteners.
Why? (1) Kindergarteners don’t jockey for power. “They’re not trying to be CEO of spaghetti, inc.” (2) Business students are trained to find the single right answer.
In the immortal words of Scott Stratten: STOP IT!
How many opportunities for improvement are you ignoring in an effort to get it just right?
Use what you’ve got: marketing working group, visual identity committee, branding council…use them. The work they’re doing is applicable to the work you’re doing. Layer yourself in there.
Establish a culture of public wins. Talk to groups on campus. Committees, senates, listen to their needs, find ways to help, promote those wins. Share.
Use your stories to talk honestly about the effort that goes into the thing. As Austin Kleon said: Always give credit.
Supportive Focus on user’s own goals and keep working with them to elevate their skills, abilities, and understanding. Train good habits wherever you can. Train that there are reasons and resources. Make all of that easily available.
Keep it simple. Provide a framework, examples, support. Stay positive.
frameworks: simple to understand, minimalistic, expectations across regulations/requirements; examples: what you mean, what things are supposed to look like; support: resources, information, positive feedback, clear tooltips, friendly outreach, training
Water lift. Provide a safe environment for learning and progress. Determine the worst case scenario, make sure that base is covered. Protect your partners. Fail up.
Transparent. Transparency is like a recipe – with substitutions – and examples. COOKIE!!
Ground governance in reasons, but make them easy to understand. Use your sources. Cite responses to questions, decisions you make, suggestions for improvement. Bring it back to data, goals, and established best practices.
Law, regulations: accrediting bodies, 508 Best practices: usability.gov, plainlanguage.gov Institutional support materials: style guide, approved IA, message architecture, mandates from on high External support materials: MeetContent, Chronicle of Higher Ed, University Business Data: Siteimprove, GA, form submissions (what’s converting? What could be better?)
Being transparent and being accessible go hand in hand – being available, making resources available,
making the “why” useful to the people who need to use it, when they need to use it, in ways they’ll understand.
Transparency is how we empower users. We give them tools, and I don’t just mean software, but also the confidence and support they can use to keep moving in the right direction.
You ask people to help, and then you let them.
“Confident” image search – all little boys in superhero costumes. My friend Nate shared this pic of his daughter Adeline. Ain’t she fierce? Cultural expectations – how are we supporting groups that may otherwise be being marginalized?
Opportunity. Imperative to make sure that voices are heard.
You eventually have to have leadership support to get anywhere. You’re going to hit a barrier beyond which some sanction will be necessary.
NONE SHALL PASS WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!!
This doesn’t mean support from every leader in your chain of command, it doesn’t mean you have to start having conversations with the president. It does mean that you need to build a compelling case for governance that can resonate to and with the top. How?
Use your 20%, gather data, build better, show results.
Tell your story, your way. They’re not going to put it together the same way without you. Don’t leave it to someone else to decide what’s important and what things mean. We’re all about talking outcomes with audiences. Use the same strategy internally. Sell your outcomes to leadership. Be the expert.
Use your story to give kudos and shout outs to those who contributed. Make sure people don’t get swallowed up in the greater whole.
Use your story to tell others that (1) this is work and (2) it’s worth it. Then you work to make it worth it.
Win up. Support your boss’ ability to support you. Give her wins, because she’s dealing with the same people stuff you are, just on a bigger scale.
So what about unsupportive hippos? Do what you can. Use your data, A/B test, but don’t burn bridges.
Keep showing success in other areas, and stick to regulatory requirements.
Be the expert.
Could: be more focused on outcomes, support marketing and enrollment initiatives with hard data about user behaviors, build user confidence, and, by extension, stakeholder confidence in the University
Can’t: trust any of the information on the site, reuse content, comfortably send anyone there, easily provide examples of positive outcomes, reach the type of campaign conversion numbers we should, understand key user behaviors, such as applications and tours.
Because we’re at the early stages of this, I’m not able to properly support every initiative that comes my way. Once a team is built and we’re doing more to support each other, there will be more outreach and opportunities to continue building up constituents.
Formalize your mission, document it Maximize use of your resources & supporters, document goals, results, and the origin of requirements Build buy in, broadcast results…FROM THE ROOFTOPS Training, training, training. Teach how and why.
Training is how you build an army.
Now when you look at this, who are the stewards entitled to receive these bullet points from? You. This is my contract with my site stewards in order to help them deliver on their promise to the user.
Your content is a promise to your customers November 9, 2014 -- Gerry McGovern
This is the framework we developed for clarity in how and why we develop features & content, and support users with training and assistance. The umbrella themes are quality, currency, and compliance. Within these themes are concepts specific to front-end site users and our internal site administrators. These concepts cover a lot of ground, but with this we’re able to shape the conversation and help stakeholders make better decisions.
Why a framework? Because who doesn’t love a good framework?
How does this impact the user? Will it adhere to the brand? Does it comply with accessibility requirements? Do we have the technology to provide this capability?
Kristina Halvorson said this at her keynote last year at this event. It’s been one of the most empowering things I’ve heard in recent memory. I suggest we not only take it to heart, but we spread this to our constituents. Empower, don’t deter.
You’ve got your eye on the prize, but you’re not making the progress you’d really like to be making. It’s ok.
Let go of perfect, or great, or even good. Better is better than stagnant. It’s better than bad.
Real Talk: Meeting people where they are also means meeting yourself where you are. You have to take a breath, pick your battles, decide what is important, and keep coming back to the mission.