How Should Things Be?

Many of the teams I’ve been working with are either reorganizing or trying to figure out the best way to assemble new roles and responsibility to make content a strategic function in their business. One thing that gets in the way of organizational change is the way in which we answer this seemingly simple question: “How should things be?”

For example, I’m currently working with a large healthcare company that’s restructuring its marketing department. They’re reorienting roles and responsibilities, creating new functional areas, and layering in a new and innovative content function. They aim to put the new structure in place over the next six weeks and implement it in the new year.

Pressure to wrap up their restructuring within this time constraint encourages the team to change as few things as possible. As they grapple with the question “What should the new structure look like?” they are caught between two forces: the need to do things in a new way and the pull to keep doing what they’ve been doing.

They had been looking at the question through the lens of their current situation and pain points, asking “How do we improve the current situation?” In other words, they were asking how things should be in the context of what is.

I encouraged them to look, instead, at the challenge without today’s context as a foundation – to ignore the status quo and design the new system as it should be, then work backward from that design.

This shift in context changed their outlook and, ironically, got them to a finished design faster. It freed them to design the right organizational structure, independent of whether they had the headcount, skill sets, technologies, or permissions to create it. After they made their decisions, they backed into what changes needed to happen to enable this new organizational design.

When change is afoot, we have to ask ourselves what our mission should be. Are we out to improve an existing design? Is so, it may make sense to work from the foundational context of existing resources. On the other hand, if we’re creating something new, we’re more likely to succeed if we start fresh, asking “How should things be?” without the drag of what is. We can always reintroduce elements of the status quo (for example, legal requirements or parts of the process that work well).

As we design new ways to face new challenges, let’s ask ourselves, from scratch, “How should things be?” It’s the only way you have a chance of getting to what’s needed.

Speaking of change, this is the final Content Strategy for Marketers letter. I’m changing, moving. As my friend Joe Pulizzi creates new personal spaces for himself, I’ll be creating a new space for all of us in what was Joe’s weekly letter to the CMI community. You’ll receive my letter in the weekly digest each Friday starting next week.

As George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” I’m thrilled to be creating new things for you each week, and I invite you to continue with me on this adventure.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
Robert Rose on LinkedinRobert Rose on Twitter


Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.

Leave a Reply