It’s August and holiday time, so I’m late posting to the DMA blog. But this has actually helped, as I’ve had time to read other people’s posts and see that we’re experiencing similar frustrations and obstacles in our DMA projects. It shouldn’t please me that other people are finding things hard, but it does make me feel more like part of a community and takes away the “grass is greener” feeling that we all get about other people’s projects and workplaces.
I wrote in my last post that I was finding it hard to pull out DMA experiments from the overarching web and digital projects that we’re currently working on. Even breaking the project as a whole down into small sub-projects resulted in tasks that felt too large in scope and too ponderous for the fast moving pace of the DMA. By the end of July I felt like I hadn’t achieved anything or learned very much. I felt like I was at square one. Returning from holiday, I sat down and read Marge Ainsley’s post It’s what you have done that matters which prompted me to take another look at my project and what we had actually achieved over the last few months.
- With the help of the AMA’s Spot On workshop, we now have a content audit in process (complete with pretty spreadsheet). Even better, this is the first stage of our new website project and we’re working on it in a cross-departmental, cross-venue way. Definitely a win.
- We now have a skeleton Content Strategy in place, including a core objective for all digital content, key themes to guide our content production and bare bones ideas of how to begin to plan, produce, publish and measure our content across digital platforms.
- We had our first working group meeting at one of our venues and people were on board with the project, they already had ideas of their own. This felt like the biggest success, realising that many of our staff were already thinking about the new website and wider digital, coming up with ideas and solving problems from their own perspective. Even better the idea of visual project planning and short working sprints went down well.
- Finally we have appointed a web agency to redevelop the website and workshops with staff will begin in September.
It hasn’t all been positive and there are still hurdles to overcome. There is resistance to digital transformation at one of our venues and I still haven’t really found a scrappy test project that fits with the ethos of the DMA. Here’s where the “shower thoughts” come in. My husband is a telecoms creative by profession, solving problems and forging ahead with the next widget that will transform telecoms tech. He also believes that he solves the most niggling problems and comes up with his most creative solutions while in the shower – i.e. when his brain is relaxed and he’s supposedly thinking of other things. He’s right.
I’ve had more insights into our project while on holiday over the past couple of weeks than I have at work over the past few months. Mine have been insomnia or running thoughts rather than shower moments, but I guess the principle is the same. I realised that we have been coming at our buy-in problems from the wrong angle – we’ve been trying to persuade our colleagues that they needed to break out of their silos and add digital into their job descriptions, when actually lots of them are producing digital content anyway: they’re just not uploading it onto the website themselves or seeing that their work is shared across our platforms. Maybe we need to just open their eyes to what they already do. By trying to make them feel involved and invested, maybe we’ve been making them feel overloaded and unappreciated. Many people are away at the moment but you can bet I will be trying a new approach when they return.
As far as a short experiment project goes, I realised that content strategy could provide the answer. One of the strands deals with digital platforms and media, it calls for our team to find and use the most appropriate content format & media for each digital platform. I see an experiment there, one that can be run quickly, starting now and could yield measurable results in a short time frame. So, over the next few months of DMA I’ll be testing photo vs video, link vs embedded content or text vs info graphic on our social media streams. I look forward to reporting some results next time.