Share your story of why a new project or initiative is important as often as you can in an informal setting. This is where it will begin to resonate with people because they’ll have the chance to ask you questions and begin to think about how it can help them.
This epiphany coincides with the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams with that classic line “People will come, Ray”. In the movie, they were trying to convince Ray Kinsella that building a baseball field in the middle of his farm was a good idea. OK, I’m not trying to pull off anything that majestic, but I am seeing a new groundswell of people buying in to why our portal is important and sharing that message with their colleagues.
A groundswell won’t happen if it’s mandated from the top. When this project began, I spent a lot of time doing formal presentations on the goals of the portal, why it mattered, what platform it was being built on… That was a good first step, but it didn’t spark the interest of the people who were ultimately going to be maintaining their department’s sites. What sparked their interest was actually having the chance to ask questions. What sparked their interest was the ability for people to sit in a setting like our open labs an see what another office was working on for inspiration. What sparked interest was the opportunity for them to talk to their peers.
I am a resource - I can build, train, enable, but ultimately the individual office needs to make It personally relevant and important to how they work. My last open lab was full of people working on different things when we were joined by a representative from one of our campus offices resisting the need to build anything in the portal. I gave my standard elevator pitch – the improved self-service tools, the renewed marketing focus on the website, etc. but it wasn’t making a difference. The individual wasn’t yet seeing why it mattered – at this point it was just a time sucking mandate. But a little while later, as I was working with an office to think through workflows, I heard a few people who were working on their sites begin chiming in: “Take a look at how we’re organizing our content.” “We’ve been able to use the new web tools to streamline what we’re trying to say.” “Look at how easy it is to manage your page.” Item after item explaining why and how they’ve made this effort relevant and personal to their office’s success.
Suddenly it was no longer a Web Services mandate, it was a campus partnership. And that is a great thing no matter how big or small a shop you’re working in.