Strategy & planning

Strategy has taken on such a broad definition and connotation of power that everyone, everywhere, wants to be a strategist. The truth is that organizational challenges aren’t doomed by a lack of strategy but rather by a lack of cohesion and collaboration on funding and executing already-known strategic priorities. Organizational silos can compound these issues, especially where strategic priorities involve systems that are primarily managed by a single department or the creation of jointly managed technical solutions, as is often the case with audience engagement platforms. There is an old saying in data: “You care about what you measure,” and strategic goals that can’t be tracked or measured will never result in answers or progress. We’ve focused our strategic support services on helping you execute strategy in practical, measurable, and valuable ways. There are plenty of folks who can dream up more things to do, but we focus on that rare area of helping you meaningfully move your strategy forward.

We will help you execute your strategy by helping you build interdepartmental alignment, straightforward cases for budgeting, supported by strong internal communications, and by doing some of the less glamorous but crucial efforts you don’t have time or capacity for internally. These include things like designing and proposing governance that compliments your strategy and creates avenues for action and coordination. We will act as neutral parties to gather input, requirements, and feedback from around the organization and build the case for cross-organizational initiatives and budgeting.

Strategy & Planning Includes

Strategic Goal Alignment

Are the strategic goals and objectives you’ve outlined for your marketing and communications engagement efforts aligned with the overall organizational goals? Can you create a report that tracks the impact of your email marketing toward these higher level goals of revenue or organizational positioning? Clear alignment between outcomes of audience engagement efforts and broader organizational goals is a valuable tool during difficult decision making and prioritization of organizational resources. Communicating how goals are aligned throughout the organization also translates into clarity of operations and responsibilities among staff and across departments.

Strategic goal alignment helps:
  • Clearly articulate expectations and desired end state
  • Reduce tension between departments and teams by clarifying responsibilities
  • Measure performance across various tactical streams
  • Build the internal case for budgetary or other resource allocations
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Technical Architecture

Wonderful user experiences with technology rarely occur by accident, and just as rarely do technologies age like fine wine. Most organizations don’t have the luxury to solve both their acute current needs as well as to consider how their organization’s mid-term plans will intersect with the likely trajectory of technical innovation or future technologies.

We architect all of our solutions to provide value to your organization as quickly as possible, while at the same time allowing for iterative improvement based on real-world feedback. It’s been our experience that most organizations learn what their real requirements and needs are through the use of the technologies they have, and that the best technical designs take this into account.

Technical architecture that stands the test of time is flexible, modular, adaptable, and designed to allow iterative improvements. We incorporate community standards for structuring data, integrating systems, and delivering content wherever possible to maximize the interoperability of out of the box systems, and focus on the use of open source solutions when designing custom software to ensure that solutions can be evolved or adapted in the future.

Let us help you:
  • Collaboratively design a technical approach for your next project that maximizes the value you receive while minimizing the budget and timeline for delivery
  • Design integration plans for existing systems and technology infrastructure to share content, data, and support great audience experiences
  • Ensure your technical architecture is designed in concert with your staff model and planned business workflows
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Facilitation & Consensus Building

Ever been working on an effort that just gets stuck and can’t move forward? Design decisions hit a crossroad, operational tactics are leading to frustration across units, multiple stakeholders and various opinions are not adding up to a resolution.

Sometimes a third party can provide a perspective and driving force to help gain consensus and alignment by facilitating the uneasy discussions – whether those are within a team, across departments, or even among multiple vendors supporting your portfolio of engagement architecture tools and products. We have developed an approach that enables us to drop in and quickly assess the situation from various perspectives, then lead group discussions to reset and align on desired outcomes.

Strong facilitation helps teams:
  • Identify the commonalities, pain points and anomalies in perspectives
  • Build a shared understanding of goals, objectives and desired outcomes among executive stakeholders and staff
  • Develop a tactical plan to reset and complete stalled efforts
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Experience Design

Why did Instagram get so popular, so quickly? People love sharing and participating in experiences, and Instagram let them do this easily, visually, and quickly. Experience design is about creating moments where audiences want to explore further, be a part of something, or share a moment with others. A good experience is more than just layout, copy, imagery, or animation, it is about connecting with audiences and leveraging your empathy with them to understand the tasks they’re trying to achieve when they reach your digital properties.

A large part of our practice is focused on ensuring our clients have clarity on organizational goals. With our experience design practice, we try to break you out of focusing on the internal goals and objectives and to put you in the shoes of your audience. If you are a think-tank, does your audience want to first understand your program structure and how you organize staff internally to produce research, or do they want to read your best work, in a compelling format, on the topics they care about and be able to quickly and easily find related or foundational work? If I want to donate to a cause or respond to a crisis on my phone at the moment I feel moved to act, can I do that easily or do I have to wade through an about section and all your featured news clippings?

We design experiences that drive audience engagement and impact, experiences that help you meet your organization’s goals by helping your audiences achieve their own.

Let us help you
  • Put the audience first
  • Design experiences that can be measured and evaluated for iterative improvement
  • Create joy through delightful and productive interactions
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Change Management

Every major effort is part of a change that your organization is trying to enact. However, it is not always clear what the change will yield and why it must happen now. Change management is about creating impact plans that address the natural uncertainties and anxieties that happen during these times of organizational adaptation.

Communications and impact planning are critical to achieving acceptance and success for new endeavors. Preparing your team for something new is one part tactical training and another part of helping them see the value of the change for the work they are doing–not just that their operational processes are being upended for change’s sake.

Change management helps by creating:
  • A tactical, methodical, and efficient approach to change management to increase adoption and acceptance
  • Communications strategies for collecting inputs and feedback as well as sharing updates
  • Guidance for ways to achieve stakeholder and employee buy-in
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Tool Evaluation and Selection

You have a clear need, and you may have identified a few solutions that could work, all the while every salesperson you talk with is confident that their particular solution is your best option. Your colleagues from other teams and departments want to have input and make sure you are not missing any single possible opportunity. A VP in another department wants you to justify using a different system than they are using. Does any of this sound familiar? You are not alone: navigating the wide variety of technology choices seems to always intersect with the internal politics of an organization.

Our team is software agnostic (although we prefer open source solutions if custom development will be required) and we can save time and sanity by helping you discover, evaluate, and “right fit” tools. Our evaluation processes take into account not just your existing systems, staff capacity, and budget, but also the internal pressures that can block consensus or adoption of particular tool choices.

Let us help you:
  • Get a deep and organized view of possible new tools and systems
  • Consider all possible options, scored and evaluated against your organization’s unique criteria
  • Weigh the pros and cons of the best solutions, filtered and prioritized based on your needs
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Planning and Roadmap Development

Being tasked with a multi-year effort or a product plan with multiple systems and staff touchpoints can be daunting. How can you be sure what the best next steps are, where the tradeoffs might be and how the work you do will be cumulative and not result in stopping, scrapping and starting over. Development of roadmaps and both product and portfolio level planning will help you get your mind, and hands, around the various elements that will be a part of your journey. This planning and mapping will help build confidence and understand where there might be bumps in the road and what points are most critical for delivering and showing progress to your stakeholders.

Don’t stall out over trying to have the perfect roadmap, we work with our clients to implement adaptable approaches that take into account the realities that will occur, even though we can’t label them at launch.

How this helps:
  • Presents a timeline and plan to understand the course of projects or entire portfolios of engagement tools
  • Reduces anxiety from stakeholders about expectations
  • Accommodates and adapts to changing landscape in real time without losing focus on bigger vision goals
  • Provides cost-effective risk mitigation
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