Friday, June 12, 2015

A (Somewhat) Tongue in Cheek Digital Strategy Consultation

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 Note: the following post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, at least mostly. I don't believe that there is a single "correct" way to go about crafting or using any kind of strategy, including a digital strategy. That being said, there are elements that most digital strategies have in common. I find that I am often asked "would you share a copy of your digital strategy?" by other organizations. Hmm. I actually don't have a digital strategy per se; digital is part and parcel of the overall strategy here at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, woven carefully and intentionally into the fabric of what we do as a museum that is dedicated to audience engagement. The requests typically come from colleagues with whom I have an existing relationship, so I feel justified in replying with a somewhat casual attitude and (I hope) friendly manner. It goes something like this:

Dear Worried Digital Strategy Maker,

As you know, I'm not the biggest fan of stand-alone digital strategies. Especially the kind that end up as nicely bound paper binders collecting dust on a shelf.

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 Instead, I'm a big fan of Strategy. You know, Strategy strategy. One strategy. THE strategy.

But that's not to deny that having some organization, prioritization, and guidelines around digital technology isn't needed.

Now, in my opinion this whole digital strategy thing requires more than just a short and sassy reply , so clearly <your organization> must fly me to <your city> very soon for a full-day discussion session, right?
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Hmm. On the unlikelihood of that happening anytime soon, here are some things that you might find useful, or that you might choose to ignore entirely. Up to you. Please share as you see fit, most of this is stuff that I - or someone else much smarter than me - has already put out there. I realize of course there is so much more to it than this paltry list, but maybe something here can be of assistance.

I'm a firm believer in Guiding Principles, which can be used to establish a consistent framework for decision-making and prioritization. Every organization would develop somewhat unique Guiding Principles when it comes to technology, but you might consider things like:
  • The roles and responsibilities of all technology staff are defined and communicated.
  • All technology projects include a commitment to end-user testing and iterative development cycles.
  • The decision-making process around technology projects is clear, shared, and applied consistently.
  • etc.

I think the key here is to understand what is important to your organization, and to formulate a sort of structural promise that your digital technology stuff will be free of BS, transparent, collaborative and professional. And once promised, your job is to deliver on it, everyday.
Also consider Importance and Difficulty as the key axes for a straightforward schema you could apply to  making tough decisions. Something like this:

Okay, I'm running out of time now - I have to go to yet another meeting to explain myself (sound familiar?). Before I dash off, here's some more stuff that might help you:

For dealing with prioritization, check this blog post:

IMHO being a "servant leader" will empower your digital tech staff to shine. And applying the lessons of Agile approaches (aka Radical Management) can also drive to success in today's world. Read this book: The Leader's Guide to Radical Management

Big questions remain - some are explored on these slides:

We're museum people, so we have a responsibility to engage audiences, smartly. These slides offer one way to think about this:

Okay, okay, I still haven't really helped you with digital strategy, have I? Sigh. Check out this super-smart slide deck:

Oh, and don't hire any tech people until you read this book: Smart and Gets Things Done

Best of luck, and I'll be watching for those plane tickets,

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