Over the last few months we have been working towards our new web. As this blog goes live so does ‘our new baby’. The last two months been typical of what women tell me they go through when pregnant and they just want it all over with. The last few weeks have been full of false alarms as we found we were almost ready but not quite, with a few minor panics as we noticed something wasn’t right, which took me right back to desperately trying to wallpaper a bedroom in time for my first arrival. And of course now that it’s here it’s lovely and we are terribly proud (although in our case the launch is in stages with our revamped Echo Feedback tool coming in a few months’ time; and there the birth analogy fails!)
In the process I’ve been reminded of a few things about pulling such projects together that I thought I would share as leadership learning.
We talk a lot about relative valuing in our high performing teams programme, when we work through the difference in thinking between team-members. Never has it struck me as more obvious than it has in co-ordinating between our team and different suppliers. One man’s ‘acceptable’ is another mans ‘ugly’ especially when it comes to words, visuals and useability. People who bother about one of the three don’t seem to worry too much about another. Whilst in some corners a typo is abhorrent and needs dealt with, in the next breath the typo hater isn’t too worried about visuals and says ‘It’s only line spacing what does that matter?’ while our Brand guru shakes their head.
We’ve found that leaders need to pay attention to all three dimensions of what we call the meta-system (Purpose, Process, People) and can’t let their personal biases get in the way or some aspect of the business (often the people dimension) will suffer. If the leader doesn’t care about all 3 then the shaking head soon turns to issues within the team.
We embarked on the web project for two reasons 1) to improve its accessibility as web platforms were changing and 2) to get more content online. This resulted in a ‘brand refresh’ which in turn resulted in an update of a lot of existing material and as we wanted more content we had to make more content available (some of which you can click through to here). Brand refresh meant slides updated, e-mail signatures updated…..you get the picture?
All of these activities are all very important in the whole project, but at times it is very easy to get sidelined by the problems that these elements throw up and forget the real reason behind the project. This often happens in the workplace and it is a leader’s role to help the team pick their heads up and remember the real purpose behind the work being done. If not the work-list grows, prioritising gets harder and the actually output doesn’t always meet that end vision.
We deliver a couple of key programmes through our coaching culture and high performing teams products. Both last between nine months and a year and a lot happens in that time. Both are a journey and like all journeys, what you see today is not what you see in nine months’ time. Both of these take a little explaining to clients, and those that have been on the programmes often say ‘I now understand what you were doing’.
To that end we felt we needed to explain the programmes better and say more about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ on our website. What we found was in trying to do so our writing was too long. Being close to the programme meant that we over-explained and over-detailed the ‘why and how’ and each web page would have had you scrolling forever or jumping from screen to screen, neither of which are a good user experience. But how to simplify without saying nothing? As a team we were too close to what we did and found that the answer lay in asking an editor to help us get to the important stuff, saying it more succinctly and keep the messages simple.
Sometimes a good leader will need an outside perspective, an outside set of eyes that can help them take a fresh look at what is happening. Teams that look at the world only from their own viewpoint can miss what the customer needs or their stakeholders require of them. Good leaders know when it’s time to seek a view outside of their own.
Of course, coming back to our core product, that is often what coaching is about. It’s not always massive personal revelations (though it’s nice when it is) and it can be as simple as a conversation for a new perspective that helps you see things from another angle.
And maybe that is the overall message of this blog? If you can see what you’ve come through with a new perspective then it doesn’t matter how tough it was getting there, the end result always feels worthwhile.
And we hope our friends and clients like our new web as much as we do!