Grass Roots Change

This week on the Boagworld podcast we ask whether you can make your company more digital friendly without being a senior manager and if so how.

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Paul Boag:
This week on the Boagworld podcast we ask whether you can make your company more digitally friendly without being a senior manager and if so how.

Hello and welcome to boagworld.com, the podcast that we do every week and is about web design stuff and Marcus is on it and I’m on it and that’s the kind of thing we do.

Marcus Lillington:
We don’t do every week though, do we?

Paul Boag:
Yeah, we do.

Marcus Lillington:
Not every week.

Paul Boag:
Well, no.

Marcus Lillington:
I didn’t do it at Christmas.

Paul Boag:
Oh god, don’t you sound like my son. You’ve turned – he is going through this pedantic stage.

Marcus Lillington:
Maybe he is going to be a rich lawyer.

Paul Boag:
No, I think he is just aspergers.

Marcus Lillington:
No, because he has to know the detail of everything, it has to be just so…

Paul Boag:
Well he is going to be a rich scientist.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. There aren’t many of those.

Paul Boag:
There aren’t but he is going to be one of them because he is going to invent wormhole travel. I must have talked about this before on the podcast.

Marcus Lillington:
What’s the book – what are the sci-fi books where the guy’s invented wormhole travel?

Paul Boag:
Yes. Some – the – oh God, it’s gone out of my head.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s Peter Hamilton.

Paul Boag:
Yes, that’s it.

Marcus Lillington:
Not my favorite sci-fi, but quite a good idea.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I think wormhole travel would be very useful because then I could pop back to the Maldives for a weekend and things like that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Well or to the holiday planet.

Paul Boag:
The holiday planet? Oh, we’re going to have a planet dedicated to holidays, are we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, absolutely. Yes.

Paul Boag:
Am I thinking too small, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, the world is just not big enough for me.

Paul Boag:
So we wouldn’t have to worry about global warming—would we?—or running out of oil. We’ll just drill up some other planet somewhere? It would be great.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely. On the subject of holidays, Paul, have I told you that I’m going away in, I think, six week – five weeks actually I think.

Paul Boag:
Is it only five weeks?

Marcus Lillington:
Something like that.

Paul Boag:
And where are you going? Bognor?

Marcus Lillington:
To Cape Verde again. Or, Cape Verde is the correct pronunciation but everyone says Verde.

Paul Boag:
Oh, that will be lovely.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. On a beach again.

Paul Boag:
That’s all we talk about is holidays, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah well I’m just getting you back, all right.

Paul Boag:
Oh I see. Fair enough. No, I’m pleased for you, Marcus, because I’m not petty minded.

Marcus Lillington:
I was pleased too. Yes, no I was pleased for you if you remember. The only person who was…

Paul Boag:
Yes. No, that is true. You were. Everybody else was annoying. So I’m well and truly back into the swing of things now. I’m on building up now. It’s all digital adaptation rah rah rah, doing a book rah rah rah at the moment.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
That’s all I can think about. So I have to mention it, because I keep forgetting every show, right?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, that’s the point of this…

Paul Boag:
My intention is I will mention it at the end of the show but I always forget. So if you’re interested in the book that goes with this season of the podcast you can find out about it at boagworld.com/adapt. And that tells you all about the book and also all about the season and the things we are covering, what’s coming up next and a chance to have general chat about the things that we’re talking about in the season. All of that is available at boagworld.com/adapt. But in addition to that, I’m also rapidly preparing presentations for all these different conferences that I’m doing this year. It’s all got a bit carried away, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington:
But you got up this morning feeling bright and breezy and ready for work and…

Paul Boag:
Oh god, no I didn’t.

Marcus Lillington:
I know you didn’t. We were all laughing this morning at your grumpiness on slack.

Paul Boag:
Just really struggled. And then we had this thing come out of the blue which is a work thing. I’ve decided I’m totally useless when it comes to processing new information quickly in the morning. So the first thing – one of the first things I had was a call from Chris saying oh this new things is happening on Monday and we need to be prepared for it and blah blah blah blah blah and I’m like uh, uh. And it was his fault as well; he explained it very badly. Obviously it wasn’t my fault.

Marcus Lillington:
Of course not. I was listening to the whole conversation giggling basically.

Paul Boag:
He is terrible, mind, because he picked – it’s like, it was the equivalent of this. I can’t tell you dear listener what it was actually about, but it was equivalent of this. He said – it was equivalent of him having a conversation with somebody else about me, okay? And in that conversation it wasn’t about me, but I’m just using this as analogy. In that conversation…

Marcus Lillington:
Because everything is about you, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Oh yeah, everything is about me, absolutely. So it was equivalent – in the conversation I think they were saying oh Paul is talented, he is handsome, he is dynamic, he is really – he is annoying over this one thing and that would be it. Now Chris comes back to me and says oh I had a conversation about you earlier, you’re annoying about this one thing. And that’s it. He tells me the one little negative part of the entire conversation and focuses on that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah well that’s what needs dealing with.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but context. Context is everything. We know this as web designers. Anyway…

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed. Absolutely. Sorry, I started reading other things. No one sent me any jokes.

Paul Boag:
Perhaps they don’t love you anymore.

Marcus Lillington:
Or you won’t get one this week. Oh no, I shouldn’t say – yes we will because obviously they will all turn off if I say there’s no joke, obviously.

Paul Boag:
They really won’t, Marcus. I’m sorry to break it to you.

Marcus Lillington:
No, that is true.

Paul Boag:
Is it true? Are you sure?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, completely and utterly true. What’s happened this week? We all – we at the Headscape, we all went out for a lovely dinner and a bit of a piss up on Friday.

Paul Boag:
Except me.

Marcus Lillington:
Except you, Paul.

Paul Boag:
It was really sad.

Marcus Lillington:
No it wasn’t; it was great fun.

Paul Boag:
I’m so lonely, so very lonely.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s “ronery” isn’t it? From …

Paul Boag:
Ronery, yes.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, Team America.

Paul Boag:
Team America.

Marcus Lillington:
What a film.

Paul Boag:
That superb film in totally the wrong kind of way.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, you didn’t come you misery.

Paul Boag:
Oh no, I wasn’t misery. I really wanted to come, but I was unable to. But I’m having my own little meet up this Sunday with the…

Marcus Lillington:
I might come down on Sunday.

Paul Boag:
…. exclusive group. You’re going to come join us?

Marcus Lillington:
I might do. It depends on what I’m doing and whether I feel I need an early night but if I’m sort of just kicking my heels then yes.

Paul Boag:
That will be cool, because we got a meeting first thing Monday morning and it takes me so long to get into the office now and also two of the other people that are coming to the meeting have to – live further away and work further away. So they come down the night before and I figured I might as well join them for a night.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, it’s a cracking place to go out for an evening.

Paul Boag:
I know, that’s what I thought so why not?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. And as I say I might just take the opportunity to come and have dinner.

Paul Boag:
Talking of which, it made me think of the fact that I have been reading remote, the 37 signals book about remote working.

Marcus Lillington:
You have, yes.

Paul Boag:
Why do you say like that for?

Marcus Lillington:
Because you keep going on about it.

Paul Boag:
Do I? I don’t think I have, have I?

Marcus Lillington:
I’m joking.

Paul Boag:
I finished it last night.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay.

Paul Boag:
It was really good. I was really impressed with it. Now I mean there was a lot – kind of 90% of it was obviously stuff that we’ve been doing for years, because we do quite a lot of remote working. But it’s kind of nice to hear somebody else saying it and also there were one or two things in there that I thought were really good ideas, which I think we ought to do as Headscape. But I’m not going to say them here because otherwise people from Headscape might listen and then we will be committed to doing it.

Marcus Lillington:
No one else listens apart from Leigh.

Paul Boag:
That is true. Do you want to know one of them?

Marcus Lillington:
No Ian listens I think.

Paul Boag:
Does he?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, once in a while.

Paul Boag:
I’m amazed.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, so am I – so was I when he told me. I thought really.

Paul Boag:
Why?

Marcus Lillington:
I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t anymore. Maybe he did for a while. But no, go on. Just tell me one thing.

Paul Boag:
I will tell you one thing, right. One of the things that they were saying is that remote working, when you’re working from home the whole time, you become very sedentary because you’re not even kind of walking to the car to commute to work and then walking around the office and stuff like that. You just sit at your desk all day right? Which is a really good point and it’s something that you do have to watch. So at 37signals they give all their employees a free gym membership. And I thought if anyone is going to get excited and enthusiastic about that, it’ll be Marcus Lillington:.

Marcus Lillington:
I would use it.

Paul Boag:
Would you really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. If someone was willing to pay for it, but I’m always thinking well I pay through the nose for golf club membership and various other club membership, so I thought I will never bloody use it. But if someone else was paying for it, I probably would.

Paul Boag:
So that’s what – it’s interesting because I mentioned the idea to Chris yesterday when we were on the train coming back. And he said oh you know what Marcus will do; he will say that Headscape should pay for his golf membership.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I don’t know, it depends what – I would imagine that there are certain gym memberships that are even more expensive so, but I don’t expect that’s what the 37signals book was referring to, was it?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know exactly. They were a bit vague but they certainly weren’t talking about golf membership, no. No, that is true. But I thought that was a really good idea.

Marcus Lillington:
It would encourage – yes, people to be fit and healthy and not sickly and not working.

Paul Boag:
Yes, exactly. So ultimately it benefits us as a company as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. I mean you’ve already got a gym membership anyway, haven’t you?

Paul Boag:
No, I cancelled it in the end.

Marcus Lillington:
Was it not going?

Paul Boag:
Well, no it wasn’t that to be honest. It was more I was going through one of my economizing stages and then it was – I was going to do it all at home instead.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, right.

Paul Boag:
So I cancelled the membership and then promptly stopped doing it all at home.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, exactly.

Paul Boag:
So, yes that didn’t really work out very well really. As ideas go it sucked. But no I quite like – it’s a really good book. It makes some really good points about remote working. And it wasn’t – I was expecting it to be very kind of overly rah rah rah, we don’t ever need to talk to one another and we can all…But it was much more pragmatic than that so it was really good. Very good read, recommend it thoroughly.

Marcus Lillington:
But I remember just to sort of – to show the other – come from the other side of the coin, to mix many different metaphors. I remember seeing Jason Freid talk about how they work years ago. And this was when they were all in an office in Chicago I assume, maybe with some people remote working. I guess they’ve had to go further afield because – in the same way we have, you can’t always find the right person just around the corner.

Paul Boag:
Well, yes that’s the – one of the reasons why they’re a fan of it. But no they weren’t forced to go remote working, they always have been. The very two first people – I think one of them was in Chicago and one in Amsterdam, I want to say. Somewhere like that.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s a good point. Actually yes it was. But anyway I saw Jason Freid who is based in Chicago, but he has – I remember him talking about working practices that I just plain disagreed with. No talking and all this kind of thing. And it’s like…

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think they’ve kind of – I was going to say grown up a bit but that’s very patronizing.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I think he – in this book, he is much more pragmatic about stuff like that. He says it’s useful not to have constant interruptions and it’s useful to not get rid of meetings, but kind of they become more precious if that makes sense. You don’t throw a meeting for the sake of it. You think about it a little bit more. And so there was nothing in the book that I disagreed with actually. I thought it was all very sensible, very down to earth and so yeah I would highly recommend. I ought to put a link in the show notes to it really.

Marcus Lillington:
I really like my way of working which is kind of half and half. It’s magic.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, and he talked about that as well. There is no reason why it needs to be full out. There is no reason even why you couldn’t do half a day. He talked – I think Jason in particular kind of tends to work at home until about 11 and then goes into the office after that.

Marcus Lillington:
I did that on Friday, last week, which is kind of cool but I will quite often suddenly think, right it’s two o’clock in the afternoon, I need to get my head down on this proposal. It’s noisy in here, I’m going home.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, absolutely.

Marcus Lillington:
… which is great. But otherwise – up until that point I’ve been having to talk to Pete and then Chris or whatever and it’s much easier to do that if you’re in the office.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it was a good book, really good book. Yes, check it out. But anyway we ought to talk about my book, which is far better.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. How do we get to there?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know, some rambling route. So yes – well, we’re not going to be talking specifically about my book because obviously my book goes into far more detail and is worth buying …

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, of course.

Paul Boag:
… rather than just us discussing it on the podcast. God I really am going for this majorly. What happened was is last night—again, I’ll put a link in the show notes— I read this really good article about how to launch anything. And it’s – it has got me a bit over enthusiastic. You know how I get.

Marcus Lillington:
Hire a PR agency, don’t you?

Paul Boag:
I think it was how to launch anything if you don’t have money for advertising or a PR agency.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, I see. Right, right, right.

Paul Boag:
So yeah as is my want, I got a bit over enthusiastic about it. I need to calm down. So let’s talk about what we’re meant to be talking about this week by moving to our first feature.

Can you change your company from the bottom up?

For many companies, to be digitally effective means fundamental changes to the business. The question is whether this is possible without the buy-in of management?

Share your thoughts

Features, since when have we ever had features? I like this. Welcome to our first feature.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s like a feature film.

Paul Boag:
Yes. That’s exactly what we’re like, a feature film.

Marcus Lillington:
I need to find the notes. Where are they?

Paul Boag:
You’ve never got the bloomin notes.

Marcus Lillington:
Grass roots change.

Paul Boag:
That’s what we’re talking about this week. And in particular, so we’re looking at – one of the big problems with writing this book—I think I’ve said before—was the fact that a lot of the people that are reading it don’t have any power. They’re not senior management team. And so I wanted to this week look at kind of the ways that maybe you can influence change within the organization you work from, even if you’re not part of senior management team. So the first kind of question that I want to ask, which is what I’m going to look at in this first part, is can you change your company from the bottom up? As somebody that’s not a part of the senior management team, is it possible to have an influence over the nature of your company? Now of course to some degree that depends on the size of the company. If you’re working for IBM, it’s going to be a lot harder than if you’re working for, I don’t know, even something the size of a university. Obviously the smaller the company, the bigger the influence you have. But it’s still quite kind of an interesting area to explore. And yes – what I want to kind of – we are going to split this podcast down into first of all can you make a difference and then the second part is if you think – if we think you can make a difference, how do you go about making that difference; what kind of things you can do.

Marcus Lillington:
What if our conclusion in the first bit is no you can’t. Then we have no second bit.

Paul Boag:
True. I have kind of …

Marcus Lillington:
You’ve given it away.

Paul Boag:
I have given away the ending, haven’t I? Damn. Well, actually I was quite pleasantly surprised by the – because I wrote a bit about what I thought was involved in the process, and I will show that to you in a minute. And then the comments were all kind of quite upbeat. I was expecting people to go oh there is no way I can change anything in my company. It’s all so set from the top and things have been done like this for years. You know, the kind of Eeyore approach to change. But actually there were – it was really positive comments and really good stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
I think that a lot of companies, maybe not thinking particularly about web or digital, but I think a lot of companies have been – they have so many consultants go through their doors to help them sell or whatever that at some point those consultants would have said you need to get everyone in the company to be creative and give them half an hour week to promote their ideas and all this kind of…I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go along. But I suspect that it’s that kind of no, it’s only the Board that makes decisions or only the Board’s idea that ever go into the pot. I think it’s probably not as prolific as we thought it might be.

Paul Boag:
Yeah, I think things are changing and that – that’s great which is – it’s kind of part of what prompted me to write the book was the feeling that now is the time. I think if I tried to write this book, I don’t know, five years ago even I think there would have been a very different reaction to me writing it now. How successful you are at changing things, if you are just someone that works in the web team, I think, is very much dependent on a number of different factors. I thought I’d run through some of those as far as they kind of popped into my head. I think a big one is the leadership style of the senior management team.

Marcus Lillington:
Yep. I was going to say, the biggest hurdle I would think would be egos.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. If you’ve got management team that is very authoritarian and they like to be the leader at everything then yes, absolutely I think that’s going to be a big thing.

Marcus Lillington:
You’re stuffed basically.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Yes, absolutely. I mean it’s interesting. There were a couple of comments along those lines actually. Steven wrote bottom-up works just fine if presented as a group thing. And he says this is important because you’re management will not want to be shown up by their minions. So you have to kind of spread the praise if that makes sense and it’s kind of all of it in it together. Nick kind of also kind of had the same sentiment when he says that ground level team need to include management in their talks so that they understand the issues and feel part of the solution. If they’re just presented with a shrink wrapped this is the way forward that they’ve had no part in creating then they more likely to kick against it which spot on. Basically you have to make senior management feel like it’s their idea definitely.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, same old things.

Paul Boag:
Which is let’s be honest what people do – I know that I’m being handled at the moment by Dan in exactly that kind of way. Because Dan – I finally accepted that I am no longer a designer or a developer after what 20-odd years of deceiving myself. So Dan is taking over the redesign of the new Headscape and Boagworld site. And he is being very gentle with me to make me feel included in it when actually he is just ignoring all my comments and doing what he wants.

Marcus Lillington:
He keeps asking me for my opinion and it’s like uh…

Paul Boag:
I know. He has been very – it’s like he has been listening to all our tactics of being inclusive and all of this kind of stuff. But essentially he is just massaging my ego and trying to make me feel like I’ve still got something to offer the world.

Marcus Lillington:
But yeah, everything I say – I say I don’t like that, needs to change, don’t like this, needs to change and he just ignores me.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I know. But that’s what he does, doesn’t he? But he says oh I will do something about that and then never does. Yeah. So, yes it depends on the leadership style of your management I think as to how successful you are. Another thing I think is it depends on your own confidence as well; the confidence in the in-house – of the in-house web team. If the team has been institutionalized then it may be impossible to bring about change because they have kind of got it into their heads it’s impossible to bring about change and that things never get better. We see this a lot in large public institutions like universities for example. I think it also depends on the reputation of the in-house team. I think many web teams have this poor reputation within their organization. They’re either seen as being too junior—which is a common one—to go about instigating any kind of company-wide change, or too out of touch with the company objectives to make a positive contribution. I think sometimes web teams can alienate themselves from other parts of the organization by saying no or being difficult or whatever.

Marcus Lillington:
Being too narrowly focused as well, that’s another thing.

Paul Boag:
Yes. So I think sometimes it can …

Marcus Lillington:
…or being seen as being too narrowly focused.

Paul Boag:
Absolutely, and that means that it could be hard to get their peers and management to take them seriously, which can be a problem. I think the health of the company makes a big difference as well. If the company is ticking along relatively well then encouraging change could be hard because an established company is rarely motivated by new opportunities. Instead they prefer to kind of stick with what they know. Where it works well however is if there is a major treat perceived, because companies are much more willing to try new things when they’re under attack or desperate for want of a better word. Somebody in the house has just sent something to the printer, so we’ve now got a printer chugging in the background. Can you hear that?

Marcus Lillington:
I can’t hear it now.

Paul Boag:
Can’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
Oh, it might be picked up by the mic, who knows.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh, I can now.

Paul Boag:
Yes, here we go. Oh, warning black ink low as well.

Marcus Lillington:
Oh yes, come in and do lots of …

Paul Boag:
Now it means they’re going to be coming in.

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah. Changing stuff.

Paul Boag:
Oh dear. Competition is another one.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Many organizations are highly influenced by the competition. So if they’re making changes or innovating in digital, then they’re going to be – it’s going to be considerably easier to instigate grass roots change because you can go well look the competition are doing this. So that often works well. And then the final factor I could think of the affects whether change is easy to implement or not is the degree of change required so people don’t like big change. So you’re going to meet more resistance over that which can be problematic, especially if you’re kind of driving grassroots change. Big change only kind of happens from the top down I often find. But yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. And also change means spending lots as well.

Paul Boag:
Yes, absolutely. Andrew was quite pragmatic over this mind, talking about the size of changes. He talked a lot about small little victories in building momentum. So he says change is possible coming from the bottom but management needs to see tangible results before they will invest their time. So little quick projects, biting off small chunks raises confidence levels and can influence senior management team’s risk adverse nature. And I think that’s really true. If you can kind of demonstrate that small little changes add up then it will give them more confidence to kind of undertake bigger changes, wouldn’t it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, definitely.

Paul Boag:
So it’s good. Anything else you want to add to that? You got nothing to add of value at all.

Marcus Lillington:
No, no. I think that was – all I was going to say is that I think that you need to – and this maybe going into a little bit more detail – but it connects to what I was just saying about cost, that you need to – if what you’re proposing is going to cost and it almost certainly will, it might be in more people or different roles or new technology or whatever, senior management react well to honest pricing, costing of something like that and also some kind of business plan to say if we do this it will – the return on investment will be X. So, yes basically you’ve got to show people that you…

Paul Boag:
Show your working.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly, yes. You’re not just kind of just pie in the sky, wouldn’t it be great if we could do this. But this a good reason for doing stuff, I guess. That’s the…

Paul Boag:
Which brings us on nicely to the second part which is how can we go about instigating change to make your company more digital first? So insert music here.

How you can change your company to be digital first

As in-house web teams we like to moan about our organisations not getting digital. Perhaps its time we did something. But what?

Share your thoughts

We so need to keep recording in these little gaps that we make because you make all these confessions during those gaps. Oh I was daydreaming when you asked me that question.

Marcus Lillington:
I was, totally.

Paul Boag:
Honestly, so embarrassing. So yeah so you kind of were moving onto the next area which is how do you kind of encourage – what practical steps can you do?

Marcus Lillington:
I just can’t help myself, Paul. I just have to leap ahead at any chance.

Paul Boag:
You do, you’re enthusiastic. That’s what it is, Marcus. I have always thought about you, how enthusiastic you are.

Marcus Lillington:
I kind of am really.

Paul Boag:
You are like me that’s why you are an optimist.

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed, totally. Always have been.

Paul Boag:
Yes, I know.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s a very healthy way to be.

Paul Boag:
You’re more optimistic even than me I think over certain things, over money definitely.

Marcus Lillington:
Potentially. Well money is money. It’s just a thing isn’t it?

Paul Boag:
Well, don’t forget in your life it has always just spontaneously appeared hasn’t it …

Marcus Lillington:
Always.

Paul Boag:
… since you were a teenager.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, no, since I was born. Silver spoon, you know?

Paul Boag:
Where you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yeah, yeah, born into a huge country mansion. I am actually the son of a lord.

Paul Boag:
It wouldn’t surprise me. Well as far as Americans are concerned we are all sons of lords and all live in castles, don’t we?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes absolutely. I have a Scottish castle and a country mansion.

Paul Boag:
Yeah and a townhouse, don’t forget your townhouse.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, of course. The kids are living in that at the moment.

Paul Boag:
Gah, wouldn’t that be great? A house for each member of the family. Peace and quiet.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I’m not a lord by the way and I’m not rich.

Paul Boag:
Lord Lillington, it just sounds right.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I am known as Lord Lillington at the cricket club but there you go.

Paul Boag:
Are you really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I am really.

Paul Boag:
Why are you called Lord Lillington? Where did that come from?

Marcus Lillington:
Because one of my mates and another one of my mates who has since moved up to Nottingham decided that I was going to be Lord Lillington about ten years ago and it just stuck.

Paul Boag:
Well, there you go.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. Hello, Jonty. Not that he’ll be listening.

Paul Boag:
I’m not called Lord or anything really. The only things I’m called are derogatory. It’s hard being me. Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yes, how do you achieve digital change? I think – this is really interesting, isn’t it? I think that a big part of it is our own attitudes when you work for an organization, because I think the truth is that it’s really hard to change other people, right. But what you can do is you can change yourself. And I always think that if you’re trying to change an organization, just wandering around the organization moaning about how wrong everybody has got it and trying to change people is a kind of a dead end really.

I think one of the best places to start is how you operate yourself and how you think. So take for example those frustrating requests that you get from the colleague, and we get them as well when a client, either internal or external, comes with to you with some ridiculous idea about wanting yet another sub site as part of their corporate presence or wanting a website that doesn’t scroll or have flaming logo or whatever else. I did actually say to Dan with the re-design of Boagworld can you make my logo bigger, which was very embarrassing.

Fortunately he ignored me as we have already said. I think as web designers we do have a natural inclination when people come to us and say dumb arse things like that to roll our eyes and just say no. But I think that can often gain us a reputation as difficult and leave us a bit isolated within the companies. It is not unusual within the web – within the clients that we’ve work with over the years that actually part of the reason they’ve come to us is to bypass their internal web company, internal web team which puts us in a really difficult position and we’ve kind of learnt how to step back from that over the years.

But I think sometimes internal people turn to external agencies as a way of bypassing what they perceive as a difficult internal team. So I think we need to as internal web teams develop a more kind of positive attitude towards our colleagues and take the time to examine their ideas and discuss alternatives with them and begin to build allies within the company so that we’re not seen as these kind of difficult outsiders that don’t really get it. I also think we need to be considerably more proactive than we are and we need to kind of reach out to our colleagues and make suggestions about how digital might help them with their job and all of those kinds of things.

Sure, not all of our ideas are going to be accepted and we need to be alright with that, but the act of trying to help other people does change the culture and it improves peoples’ understanding of you and of digital and of the web and helps alter kind of perceptions, if that makes sense. Am I talking rubbish, Marcus, or is this making sense?

Marcus Lillington:
It is making sense. You’re just checking up on me, aren’t you? Again. Am I listening?

Paul Boag:
Well, no I just feel sometimes like I am talking for a long time and you’re – it’s like I’m by myself.

Marcus Lillington:
I was doing some research, Paul, and letting you run with the idea.

Paul Boag:
Research? What were you researching?

Marcus Lillington:
Some important things.

Paul Boag:
Jokes, weren’t you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
See this is the problem: you never prepare the jokes before the show. And as a result you check out and it’s like I’m all by myself like in the early days of the podcast and we know what that was like.

Marcus Lillington:
Very, very, very, very early days of the site – of the podcast.

Paul Boag:
It was.

Marcus Lillington:
Sorry, what were you talking about? I wasn’t listening.

Paul Boag:
It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. Nobody was listening. You weren’t alone. I do tell you one other thing about …

Marcus Lillington:
I was listening.

Paul Boag:
… our kind of attitude and this is the really big one. This is the crunch one, I think, in terms of our own attitude, which is we need to start being more pro-active and not waiting for permission in order to make change. I think often web teams kind of sit there going oh, I don’t have the authority to change that and nobody has told me I can do that and there is this job that needs doing but nobody said I can do it. And this is where I come back to Grace Hopper. Have you ever heard of Grace Hopper?

Marcus Lillington:
Was this about asking for..?

Paul Boag:
Asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly, yes.

Paul Boag:
I just – I’m such a fan of that. That’s my mantra in life.

Marcus Lillington:
I know what you mean but it can be incredibly irritating as well if people do that.

Paul Boag:
Are you talking about me now, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I was thinking …

Paul Boag:
Is people aimed at me?

Marcus Lillington:
People. No it wasn’t aimed at you. It was just a general observation on that, but sometimes – it depends on whether it is a good idea or not, doesn’t it? If somebody does something without – they should go through particular channels to get it and it was a fantastic idea and wow I wish we’d all thought of that, then yeah brilliant but if it’s a complete turkey that messes up everyone’s’ lives, then you just want to hit them with a stick, don’t you?

Paul Boag:
I think it’s alright if they can step back from it relatively easily.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
I’m not – yeah, I mean you are right. There is a balance here. But like for example—a stupid example, but it’s the first thing that sprung into my mind—I decided we needed a new Skype conference call set up in the meeting room, didn’t I? So I sent round an e-mail saying seen this, I want to buy it, any objections and then I went on and ordered it before everybody responded but knowing that I could have sent it back if there was a real problem with it. So that’s kind of my attitude. If you can undo it relatively easily, then kind of push ahead with it. I mean there is a great example that I reference in the book which is in male chimp, right, the CEO of male chimp comes into the office one day I think Ben Chestnut, I want to say, but I don’t think that’s quite right.

Marcus Lillington:
That’s not his name.

Paul Boag:
He can’t be called chestnut, can he? Now I have to look up…

Marcus Lillington:
Well he might be. Now we’re laughing at his name.

Paul Boag:
CEO name. Let’s just fine out what it is. Ben Chestnut. No, I’m right.

Marcus Lillington:
See look we are just laughing at…Oh, no. You were, you made me laugh.

Paul Boag:
Oh, sorry Ben. I bet he listens as well. No, he doesn’t. But anyway I know who does, which is his head of UX, a guy called Aaron Walters and he went – Ben came into the office one day and discovered that male chimp had a new strapline on their website. And normally this is the kind of thing that would go through endless committees to be decided, but Aaron or Aaron—I wonder if he says it Aaron or Aaron, I can’t remember now—but anyway he went ahead and just changed it without really kind of consulting the CEO of the company. But Ben was fine about it because it was –like you say, it was a good change, it was a sensible change. Aaron was able to justify it and why should he wait around for there to be a committee to make a decision? And it was something that could have easily been undone.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. I guess, yeah. I guess that’s what it comes down to I suppose.

Paul Boag:
Would you prefer a committee? Is that what you were after Marcus? Would you like a hierarchical committee structure where everybody kind of is happy with everything? It’s because you’re such a people person isn’t it, Marcus? You want everybody to hold hands and like the idea.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, we all have to love it and if nobody loves it then we’ve got to go back round the table again until we all love it.

Paul Boag:
Yes. Design by compromise, that’s your way isn’t it Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
No, no there is a right way which is my way and there are other ideas that people have.

Paul Boag:
You’re so not kind of person. You’re not a right way is my way kind of person at all. That’s me or Chris. Chris is more like that than you are.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, I’m willing to see – if someone can present their idea and I think yes that’s a good idea then I won’t pretend it isn’t.

Paul Boag:
It’s only a good idea if I am the one that suggests it.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, see that’s just silly. But normally I am right obviously.

Paul Boag:
So anyway …

Marcus Lillington:
Because I’m so wise.

Paul Boag:
You are very wise, you’re very something anyway. So another part of this – so we talked about kind of taking the initiative and I think another big thing and this – I wrote a post on this recently for Smashing Magazine, link in the show notes. I’m going to hate myself – I hate myself when I put lots of links in the show notes and I hate myself even more when I say links in the show notes where there isn’t a link because when I go back through and search for link in the show notes.

Marcus Lillington:
How many times do you want to say link in the show notes?

Paul Boag:
You see now – see now you’ve said it as well and it’s just going to be really irritating when I produce the show notes.

Marcus Lillington:
What about if you just say the word link or is it the whole link in the show notes?

Paul Boag:
I think the word show notes that I look – I search on and we’ve said that a lot now.

Marcus Lillington:
So if I say …

Paul Boag:
Don’t say it.

Marcus Lillington:
Okay. I won’t.

Paul Boag:
We will move on. Anyway I will put a link in the show notes to the Smashing Magazine article I wrote, I’m losing the plot, which was about this idea that we as web teams are responsible for education and educating the organization about digital as we’re building digital stuff. And I think this is a really important factor and something that I think we need to kind of wrap our heads around. That if we want the organizations we work for to embrace the web then we’re going to need to educate our colleagues and management and no one else is going to do it. And they don’t even recognize the need for it. So they’re not going to hire in someone to do it. And yeah I know that we’re not paid to do that kind of thing, but we’ve got to do it anyway, because ultimately it’s going to make our jobs more enjoyable and fulfilling.

So what am I talking about here? Well I’m kind of – I’m talking about doing things like maybe getting in a guest speaker to talk to your colleagues about the potential of digital and that’s something I have done loads of times before. I have done it – I’ve been invited into the BBC, I’m going to see the European Commission in a few weeks, kind of be a guest speaker with them. So there are lots of people out there you can get in to share their expertise and knowledge with your colleagues. And it makes you look really proactive, but it also helps educate people as well. Maybe you want to run an internal blog or write a newsletter or maybe do a little mini workshop or even, as they did at the University of Strathclyde, a whole little mini conference. And then there’s things like offering training and that kind of stuff. So it’s basically anything you can do to get your colleagues thinking about how the web could impact their job.

Marcus Lillington:
Talking about Strathclyde, what they wanted to do and the reason why they did that is they wanted to get people out of their offices didn’t they…

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
And into a different location which I thought was a good idea at the time. And feed them, water them, give them alcohol.

Paul Boag:
Yes, and it actually worked really well and in fact it worked out cheaper than running a series of workshops as well so…And it creates such a good buzz getting everybody together and looking at the potential of the web and there were all these break out groups. So you had some guest speakers that were kind of speaking that came in for an outside on various aspects of digital. They had some internal people that were speaking on various aspects of digital. Then they did breakout groups where they discussed the potential of different things and it just works so so well.

So yeah, if you are a reasonable size organization, something like that is definitely worth doing. Ultimately it’s all about engagement—isn’t it?—and getting people to start thinking about what the web can do for them. And then the other thing that I think is worth saying in this kind of getting, transforming your organization is to include colleagues more in the process of actually implementing web solutions. And I think that’s one of the best way of educating colleagues is to include them in what you’re doing and we have a habit of taking a brief from an internal client and then going away and implementing it.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to include the client as part of your team, work alongside them, interact with them regularly, show them work often, ask their opinions, discuss options, don’t keep them at arms lame. And I think this is where Agile works so well because you have these kind of product leaders or business specialists that you bring in and they work as part of your team for a while and it’s brilliant. The other thing that is like that which is really good to do is run monthly usability test sessions that you can invite anybody along to. So Steve Krug recommends in his book Rocket Surgery Made Easy, link in the show notes…

Marcus Lillington:
Show notes.

Paul Boag:
That basically – what did you say?

Marcus Lillington:
I think I said show notes, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Oh, did you? Oh, shut up.

Marcus Lillington:
It was show notes, if you didn’t get it.

Paul Boag:
Shut up. So basically what he recommends in his book is that you run – every day, the same day every month, you run a usability test session on whatever you’re currently working on on the website, that runs in the morning and you only have three or four participants and then anybody can come along to that, watch those and then you all sit down together over lunch and you order in some pizza in order to lure people along and you discuss what you saw in the morning. And I think it’s a great idea as a way of not only including people in the process, but letting them see what the problems that real users struggle with. Nothing is more enlightening to your colleagues than seeing real users interacting with your website. And, on top of that, it improves your website as well, which is a bonus.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly.

Paul Boag:
You know I guess my point with all of this is that to transform an organizational culture is not going to happen overnight and it’s going to require concerted long-term effort. But eventually I think as you do this over a period of time, you build up allies and people that get it within the organization and sooner or later that will hit a tipping point where the organizational culture begins to shift. And there is so much you could do. It’s really – yes, I get really excited thinking about it and I – it’s part of the job that I love is advising clients on how they can start shifting mentalities within the company. Very cool.

Marcus Lillington:
Indeed. Well, you wrote a whole book about it.

Paul Boag:
I did write a whole book about it and it’s an excellent book that you can find out more about at blogworld.com/adapt. And you can sign up for e-mail updates to the new book as well and you will be told all about it as it comes out; exclusive content and things.

Marcus Lillington:
And stuff.

Paul Boag:
I’m not very good at this, am I?

Marcus Lillington:
What and things?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know I’m just making it up. Okay I’m going to commit to giving people who sign up to the newsletter something. I’ll give them my love. I don’t know, I can’t think of anything. See I’m rubbish at this stuff.

Marcus Lillington:
I found some jokes.

Paul Boag:
But if they come along to one of the conferences where I’m talking about digital adaptation, and if they bring their book I can sign it because that’s such a bonus. I don’t understand.

Marcus Lillington:
Absolutely.

Paul Boag:
I don’t understand getting people to sign – well I can understand getting Tolkien to sign your book, because that would be a quite an achievement as he is dead.

Marcus Lillington:
Just as he is dead, yeah.

Paul Boag:
But why would anyone want..?

Marcus Lillington:
Well, make it more valuable.

Paul Boag:
What getting me to sign their book?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, I mean books in general. That’s what people tend to want them signed. If they’re a major fan…

Paul Boag:
What so they can then sell it on eBay?

Marcus Lillington:
Did I see something, probably on the antiques road show, there was a Harry Porter first edition that wasn’t signed but it was the first book, first edition and it was worth ridiculous – you know, 10s of 1000s of pounds, because they did such a short run of the very first one. So, yes and if you’d had that signed as well it would be worth even more.

Paul Boag:
Yes I know. I get that with like Harry Potter but I don’t understand why people ask me to sign stuff? Do you know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington:
Well it’s the same for the same reason but not for such a – it’s not – it’s for exactly the same reason, Paul, but not so heartfelt I suspect. Well it’s fame hunting because you’re so famous, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Yeah but perhaps I just don’t – no, I don’t – I deny the premise there. But I don’t think I get it…

Marcus Lillington:
You are denying it. It happened to me when I was young.

Paul Boag:
You must have signed – you must have signed loads of stuff as a pop star.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes and it’s weird.

Paul Boag:
Yes.

Marcus Lillington:
But it’s not to the people who are asking for the autograph because that’s what you do.

Paul Boag:
Yes, but would you? If you met someone you really admired, would you ask them to sign something? I wouldn’t.

Marcus Lillington:
If it was a writer and I had their book, I would ask them to sign it, yes.

Paul Boag:
Would you?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Would I? I don’t know.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes. But no, if it was like a musician then I wouldn’t suddenly find myself a fag packet, please sign this. No I wouldn’t do that.

Paul Boag:
No. It’s weird, isn’t it? Because I have had people ask me to sign – I dare to think what people have asked you to sign, but …

Marcus Lillington:
It’s true. What you’re thinking is true.

Paul Boag:
Is it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
That is amazing. Did they get it tattooed afterwards, that’s the new thing, isn’t it?

Marcus Lillington:
I doubt it.

Paul Boag:
Because that’s what you see on TV. You know, they sign your arm and you then go and get it tattooed. I don’t understand signatures, I think, other than obviously will you sign this so I can get into your bank account. Did you have a different signature, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington:
No, I don’t think so. Not massively different.

Paul Boag:
So if you’re listening to this and you have got Marcus’s signature from his heyday, you can now get into his bank account.

Marcus Lillington:
That would be quite hard. How do you get into somebody’s bank account now with just a signature?

Paul Boag:
I don’t know. No, probably couldn’t, could you?

Marcus Lillington:
No.

Paul Boag:
I’m sure it must be useful having someone’s signature mind.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, you could probably do stuff. I don’t know, I just – I’m just not – I don’t have a criminal mind, Paul, like you obviously.

Paul Boag:
No, I must admit. It did go through my head. I did think about it. Anyway did you – when you checked out a minute ago and you weren’t paying any attention. Did you find a joke?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Go on then.

Marcus Lillington:
I went to the corner shop; I bought four corners, which I thought that was quite good.

Paul Boag:
I do quite like that.

Marcus Lillington:
I tried water polo but my horse drowned. I have some more here. I might have to save this …

Paul Boag:
They are almost Jimmy Carr type jokes, aren’t they?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes. We might have had this one – I’m sure we’ve had this one before. Anyway, four fonts walk into a bar. The barman says oi get out we don’t have your type in here.

Paul Boag:
I think we have had that one before but I still like it.

Marcus Lillington:
Exactly. I’m saving the rest for next week. I’ve found a joke site.

Paul Boag:
You see that’s what normal people do. Instead of waiting for people to e-mail you jokes.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, but I’ve done that so many times in the past and they are rubbish.

Paul Boag:
Yeah.

Marcus Lillington:
But these are quite good.

Paul Boag:
I’m sure there must be a web designer’s joke site.

Marcus Lillington:
There probably it is, but …

Paul Boag:
That’s just full of terrible web designer jokes.

Marcus Lillington:
Like the last one I did, but that was quite a good one I thought.

Paul Boag:
That was quite good. I prefer the four corners one.

Marcus Lillington:
Well that’s what you get in a corner shop, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Sorry?

Marcus Lillington:
That’s what you’d get at the corner shop, Paul.

Paul Boag:
Yes, it is. Whenever I talk about corner shops it always makes me think of Open All Hours. That was a good TV show.

Marcus Lillington:
Well it was on again at Christmas.

Paul Boag:
Was it really?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, with – whatever the young one was called – as the shop owner.

Paul Boag:
Oh really, they did like a Christmas special?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, Granville.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, Granville was now Arkwright or whatever his name was and they had a new young lad.

Paul Boag:
Oh, I ought to watch that.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, I wonder whether it’s on iPlayer. Was it a BBC thing?

Marcus Lillington:
I think so, yes.

Paul Boag:
Was it called Open All Hours?

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, yes.

Paul Boag:
Oh, I’m going to have to find that.

Marcus Lillington:
There you go.

Paul Boag:
Awesome. See this is what you miss out on if you don’t watch terrestrial TV.

Marcus Lillington:
Well yeah, see. Miss out on all sorts. You should have bought – I can’t believe you don’t have any terrestrial TV.

Paul Boag:
No. Well, we have got it in theory. I just never turn it on.

Marcus Lillington:
It’s bizarre.

Paul Boag:
Well it’s the kind of guy I am.

Marcus Lillington:
Well, yeah okay.

Paul Boag:
Alright well thank you for listening to this week’s show. I do feel it’s been more rambling even than normal.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, so do I.

Paul Boag:
Next week’s show we will be probably in the office I would have thought and Leigh might be joining us.

Marcus Lillington:
That will be good. Yes.

Paul Boag:
We can get one in next Monday, can’t we?

Marcus Lillington:
Of course we can.

Paul Boag:
Excellent. So next week Leigh will be joining us. We’ll be talking about stuff and so it will be even more rambling because when Leigh is on it we lose the plot.

Marcus Lillington:
Yes, more giggly.

Paul Boag:
More giggly. Alright, talk to you again next week, guys. Bye.

Marcus Lillington:
Bye.

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