Are there any weak points or things to look out for in terms of getting input from a team to build a content-first workflow?
In this process, it’s important to get a range of feedback. If not everyone in the meeting has contributed something it’s likely that opportunities are being missed. A couple of ways to make this happen are to encourage input from introverts as well as extroverts and to ensure the group includes people from different age groups and functions. Based on my observations, even people who seem to be stuck in their ways or resistant to change can have surprising insights. They often have a different perspective and see things the group at large was not aware of.
Earlier you mentioned the importance of content-first, and leaving the channel out of the discussion. However, it seems like new channels are popping up every day. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach new channels?
I think it is really important to have a short learning cycle so you don’t spend time developing channels, products, or ideas your customers don’t want. Every publisher’s community of readers is different and will react differently to a given channel. One advantage of a content-first workflow is it reduces the cost of testing new products and enables the entire team—editorial, research, design, sales, leadership—to contribute to the early development of new ideas. It’s really important to test out new channels and see what works for you. But you don’t want to invest large amounts of time testing every new channel that appears.
We sometimes see that there can be resistance to workflow changes, especially if people feel threatened or want to protect their turf. Do you have any thoughts on overcoming this?
The role of leadership is crucial. If the boss isn't willing to commit to and invest in their team and be willing to change their own behavior as necessary, why would anyone working for them get onboard? It's incredibly difficult for staff members to lead change when to do so would be to work against the intentions of the person who hired them.
What I have seen, over and over again, is that much better ideas come from people who use their energy to create and improve processes and teamwork rather than defend their turf. I have never seen anyone improve themselves out of a job.
Communication is also important. I don’t work with organizations that are restructuring in order to cut staff, and communicating that upfront goes a long way to ensuring that people are open to organizational change.
Here at WoodWing we are particularly interested in the technology and tooling side of improving workflows. What is your advice or thinking about how to approach tools and technology?
I firmly believe that discussions should never begin with tools or tech. The reason is that if you just add tech to a bad workflow, at worst you are going to be locked into bad habits, and at best just make bad processes slightly faster. You should always begin with workflow. Once people are working with basic tools and incremental change, their tooling and technology needs become obvious. As teams practice continuous improvement, someone will say something like; “Next week, I will try X approach or Y software, then show everyone how it works.” If X or Y improves the process, the person who introduced it becomes the expert and is responsible for training other people.
Of course, you also need to ensure that tool use doesn’t spiral out of control. Once your workflow practices are relatively stable, I suggest looking for technology partners who will work with you to accomplish your business goals.
Content Orchestration with WoodWing
Like Kilian, we at WoodWing are big believers in a content-first approach and how it can benefit publishers. Learn how WoodWing Studio - our content creation, workflow, and publishing solution, enables a content-first approach.