“Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third…”

Sometimes, despite what my ENTJ brain wants to believe, a problem doesn’t have a black-and-white, clear-cut solution. There is not always a single right answer.

If this statement causes you pain, you may be your office’s Alaina. Surely, you think to yourself. Surely, with enough thought, deliberation, list-making, research, debating, soul-searching, and question-asking, the best solution can always be identified. I, being my own office’s Alaina, hate to break it to you–sometimes there is more than one correct approach. These are the times that test our ability to truly think objectively (it’s hard, I know, because we are typically so sure we’re right).

And so here I am. Having successfully transitioned our campus to a new content management system, it’s time for my team to start working with departments on real-live content strategy. We’ve given them the tools, and we’ve promised to teach them how to use them.

Yes. Let’s do that. Who’s first?

No, really, I’m asking. Who is first?

For my team, it comes down to this: Do we start with the departments with the energy, staff, and ability to produce results quickly? Use these departments as examples of what is possible? Or do we start with departments in need of the most help, who will likely take the most amount of work and time? There is a case to be made for each.

These are the things I know:

  • We have a lot of departments to work with, roughly 100, and it could take years to make it through the list.
  • The more energy we devote to one department, the less we have to offer others during the same project period.
  • For internal purposes, working with departments who are best-equipped could mean getting through a portion of the list more quickly, affecting improvement across more of the overall university website.
  • Externally, visitors have no knowledge about or interest in staffing or ability of university departments.  They want the information they’re looking for.
  • The departments with staff and aptitude may be able to make great strides toward improved content on their own accord, with some guidance.
  • The departments requiring less individual attention may amount to a higher percentage of the university website, contributing to more of an overall positive user experience.
  • The departments requiring more individual attention, even if there are fewer, might just be the departments holding the information a visitor is looking for.
  • There’s no rule that says we can only work with one department at a time, but we want to be realistic about how much work we take on (especially at the beginning of this effort).

There are more pros and cons to spell out, lists to make, thoughts to think. The answer here isn’t obvious, and may not be one-or-the-other. Can we work with one of each of these departments simultaneously?

How would you proceed? What points would be on your pros-and-cons list?

One thought on ““Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third…”

  1. Very interesting post – but hard question! like you said, there isn’t just a right way to do things. That’s because we don’t know the future. Even when things work out we tend to look back and tell ourselves that we made the right decision. But maybe we were just lucky or the alternative would have been better.

    About your example. Maybe the departments that need more attention will benefit from having a ‘model’ to follow. If they see how the good departments are getting results, it should be easier for them to ‘copy’ their strategy. Even if you explain the new system to them, they might prefer something a bit more practical.

    Or maybe you can introduce some ‘shadowing’? you don’t have to do all the training yourself. Staff from the struggling departments can spend time with the good departments to learn directly from them. That would create a network of learning that could be self-fulfilling. I know it’s easier said than done, though :)

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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