Last week I spent several days at DOCUMENT Strategy Forum ’16, held here in Chicago. I had a couple of definite takeaways, but there was one uniting theme that I found interesting, across the various paths (Strategic Vision, Process Management, Technology Deployment, etc.) that I sat in on. Each one emphasized the need to bring the end users and downstream beneficiaries into the fold early on in an enterprise content management (ECM) initiative, so that the output would not only be useful to those downstream users, but they could feel they were getting a solution to their teams.
It got me thinking about how this basic necessity is applicable in every interaction we have: Make it about them to drive your own success.
Being proactive about reaching out to others about your project, sharing ideas, and discussing benefits and challenges exposes you to a wealth of knowledge, in addition to building a team of evangelists for your efforts. If you properly tie your project’s success to all the benefits your users will be receiving, you instantly have a team of champions across the organization.
While speaking this common language of WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) and properly positioning your project to the various stakeholders makes your mission easier as the project moves forward, the hard work is on the front end to learn what your stakeholders value. We’re all busy, so doing extra work on the front end is hard to justify, as opposed to the fire drill later when things go wrong. So think of it as preventive maintenance. We’d all rather have a calm, valuable, and interesting conversation over coffee at the early stages of a project than the stressful timelines and late nights to correct a problem on the back end.
When you lead a project with the right content decisions and strategy, the technology almost self-selects. If you champion your project with the support of the right people and give them some skin in the game, it will continue down a smooth path toward completion.
Start with the end in mind. Identify and involve the stakeholders who will reap the benefits of your work, then continuously tie those benefits to each stage of your work so your stakeholders begin to see you as a resource who can make them successful. Before you know it, they will be coming to you asking for your support.