A method to the madness is better than no method at all

Have you ever tried to figure out the best way to paint the seams of a room with rounded corners; where should the wall colour stop and the ceiling paint begins?

Or what about teaching someone how to ride a bike; do you follow the steps your parents did with you (back in the ice age) or look to more recent tips and tricks like ditching the training wheels – which, if we are being honest here, actually makes it more difficult to ride a bike – and starting the little one off on a push bike?

Now think about the last time you actually thought about the processes (or lack thereof) you follow at work to generate content. Have you brought new members onto the team by simply folding them into “the way we have always done it”? Did you fit that new content management system (or digital asset management system or CRM or …) into how you work, rather than adapting and optimizing workflows, roles, and responsibilities to get the most out of it?

Change is good.

Many companies I have worked with are not even sure what I mean when I ask them for their content operations details. Content what? Do you mean who is part of the content team?

Well yes, and no.

Content operations definitely includes a who’s who in terms of how content is managed, but content operations is a much bigger deal. Content operations is the means by which all, typically customer-targeted, content is created, managed, archived, and tracked. It is the end-to-end process, detailed and organized so that anyone in the organization could look at the document and know who to go to for whatever they need in terms of content. It outlines the people, the technology, workflows, and timelines for all core and key content related tasks.

The right content operational framework can transform (and I mean in a good way) the impact content has on a company’s success. Aligning end to end content management practices helps companies be more efficient and effective (and therefore, more profitable) in meeting their go-to-market goals, customer attraction and retention, and delivering great audience experiences.

\”Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.\”

Strong processes and proper governance are essential, however, are not enough to guarantee success. Changing how a company operates is complex, time consuming, and expensive. This kind of transformation can affect every aspect of the enterprise in some way, so it’s essential that companies are pro-actively in the planning and execution of a content operations plan, ensuring the necessary funding, leadership buy in, and cross-business support is in place.

Content Operations part of Digital Transformation

Key elements of content transformation include focusing in on what is needed – skills, technology, processes, roles, responsibilities – do deliver great experiences to all customers – external and employees. Metrics for measuring KPIs and ROI, both quantitatively and qualitatively, need to be developed and linked clearly to the company’s overall strategy and goals. 

\”You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.\”

And if you think a slow and steady approach to transforming your content operations is the best approach, think again, because as you are moving slowly and carefully, your competitors aren’t. They aren’t just paying more attention to how to get the most out of their content, they are also capturing more information about their customers’ preferences and feeding that back into their content generation to make/reimagine content that is more relevant, more engaging, better than yours, than ever before. Their agile-based, reimagined content approach enables them to take advantage of the data being collected, the subject matters they have access to, and the content expertise within their organization and partner network to deliver the best, differentiated, content-based experiences audiences are longing for. They are doing it and learning and improving as they go.

Let’s face it, change is hard. Nobody likes it. And, when given the choice, we tend to tend to opt for the path of least resistance or status quo. But I would venture to guess that if we really looked at the upside of change. At what we would get in the long run; the positive and lasting outcomes, I think many would chose to challenge the status quo, take up the challenge of taming the beast that is content, and emerge the victor riding off in the sunset on a two-wheeler never having used (or needed) training wheels.

Quotes are from James Clear\’s Atomic Habits. A great read with some really good insights on instilling positive habits in ourselves and our teams. 

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