The 10 most important things you are probably failing to do

Paul Boag

For our organisations to truly embrace digital, everybody needs to understand what it can do for the business. You need to make that happen.

As web professionals we all have a job to do. None of us think that job is to educate our colleagues and management. They certainly don’t see that as your job. However, it is almost certainly the most important thing for you to do.

For a company to really utilise digital to its full potential, it needs to become a tool as ubiquitous as electricity. The marketing team should be using digital to meet their jobs, the HR department likewise, and so on. Digital shouldn’t be limited to a small silo called the ‘digital team.’

Unfortunately most companies are not there yet. Most people dismiss digital as being a ‘techie’ thing. They don’t see it as something they should be using daily. It falls you to change that.

To change people’s perception of the role of digital, you need to undertake a concerted campaign of education. In this post I outline 10 things that will help you achieve just that.

Write a newsletter

Why not start writing a weekly newsletter that gets sent company wide? Write about cool things you have seen online and how those things can be applied to your business.

Highlight things that your competition are doing well and learn from those. Talk too about your companies weaknesses and what things that could be done to address them.

By putting an email in their inbox every week you will ensure your colleagues do not forget digital next time they are planning a new initiative or face a new challenge.

Start a blog

If a company wide email sounds too intimidating or too intrusive, why not start a blog? This affords all of the same opportunities to highlight relevant digital innovations, but won’t go company wide all at once.

Of course, this approach does require you to promote the blog internally within your company. However, given a bit of perseverance and time, it should eventually grow through word of mouth recommendation.

Run a survey

Whether you run a blog or a send a newsletter, consider including the odd survey in the mix. Sometimes the best way of getting your colleagues attention is to ask their opinion.

Surveys are also a great way of focusing people’s attention on specific issues and even leading their thinking on a subject (with carefully worded questions). Sure, that is not the traditional reason to use a survey, but if it works, why not!?

Arrange some stakeholder interviews

Talking of listening to your colleagues opinions, why not setup a series of one-to-one stakeholder interviews? These are great opportunities for you to better understand what your colleagues do and hopefully identify opportunities where digital could help them.

It’s also a chance for them to learn more about digital and an opportunity to get them focusing on digital as an issue.

Hold a workshops

If meeting individually with stakeholders is not an option, consider holding a workshop. Workshops can be a brilliant way to explore the potential of digital within your organisation or focus on a particularly area such as writing for the web.

You can either run the workshops yourself or get in a guest speaker if you lack confidence. I do a lot of workshops for companies and find that sometimes this is better than using internal staff, because people tend to pay more attention to an outside perspective.

Throw a conference

If you are feeling ambitious you could try throwing an internal conference with multiple sessions and a number of different speakers, both internally and externally.

Running a company wide conference can actually work out cheaper than doing a series of workshops and makes a big splash. The internal conferences I have been involved in before inevitably create a real buzz around the potential of digital.

Invite colleagues to a launch party

On the subject of generating buzz, when you release a big piece of work (e.g. a new website or mobile app) consider having a launch party. Get in a few beers and a pizza and celebrate. But if you do, don’t forget to invite people from across the entire organisation including management.

These events are good for generating buzz and interest in digital, however they are also great for team morale.

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Start open usability test sessions

Food is a great way of getting the attention of colleagues! Steve Krug in his book Rocket Surgery Made Easy suggests using pizza as a way of getting people to come and watch a usability test session.

Watching real users interacting with your website is the single best way for getting colleagues to take the web seriously. Like Steve Krug I recommend running open usability test sessions once a month if at all possible.

Record some videos

Getting people in a room is not always easy so if you cannot get people to watch a usability test session send them the edited highlights as a video. Equally if people cannot attend an internal conference or workshop, make sure the event is recorded so you can send the videos out afterwards.

Video is the most engaging way of communicating with colleagues other than face to face, and it doesn’t need to be expensive or highly polished. Hell, you can create a great video with nothing more than your smartphone.

Work collaboratively

Finally, always include colleagues in your team. If you are working on a project for marketing, make sure somebody from marketing is sitting working alongside you. They will learn more from watching you do your job and discuss the project, than any other way.

As web professionals we should never work in isolation, but always hand in hand with colleagues from across the organisation.

Educating your colleagues so that they can start utilising digital themselves is your number one responsibility. Only you have the knowledge and recognise the need to bring about digital change through enthusing others.