Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tool Myopia: A Content Strategy Risk


We are all creatures of habit and it is easy for us to make recommendations based on what we already know. After all, we look like experts when we speak with confidence about what is familiar to us versus what is unknown. And who doesn’t want to look like an expert?

When it comes to Content Strategy the risk of new, unproven technology looms large. But it is important that we do not sit behind this lens and allow it to drive our decisions. Naturally, strategists use the tools they use for a reason and generally possess strong opinions about them. This loyalty, however, can present an implementation challenge. We start to unconsciously follow the belief that one way (our way) is the best way and all of our current tools and resources align to create the perfect end product. In the strategy world, however, there is no single formula for success. No templates to follow process 100% of the time. And no foolproof user’s guide to ensure desired results.

Tool Myopia

A high level of proficiency around certain tools fosters a sense of security and confidence in project owners and team members alike, but such a strong attachment to a tool can actually hinder a project’s growth and the possibilities associated with it. Diagnosis? Tool Myopia.

Here are a few of the signs and symptoms that a strategist may be too attached to a particular tool, resource, or platform:

  • Automatically rejecting the possibility of other tools. Just because you have a team of experts who excel in use of a certain CMS platform, for example, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better option out there.
  • Using your current tool as a benchmark for excellence. It may serve best for Project X, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the best at all things. Consider organizational fit. What works for one organization’s problems may not be the solution for another’s.
  • Defining process requirements and/or limitations based on your current tool’s technical capabilities. If the scope of the project becomes limited because your tool isn’t capable, it’s time to move on and explore other options. Your goals should come first.
  • Focusing on short-term productivity losses, such as time spent training and learning the features and caveats of a new tool, versus considering the long-term gains of its use.

The Cure to Tool Myopia

A narrow focus on avoiding change diminishes the potential business value of content. In order to prevent limiting the success of your project through tool myopia, it is important that a strategist first identify and build the requirements of each project. Strategic thinking about content cannot happen within the frame of “Tool X can do this, while Tool Y can do that.” Focus on the strategy first. The tools come later.

Once you have defined the project requirements, only then should you start the conversation about your tool set and required resources. It is important to remember that it is often not a poor technology choice that causes a failed content strategy project, but rather bad project management or lack of a planned strategy altogether. Focus on your goals and then determine your path to reach them.