Creating Collaborative Content Teams
Not so long ago a retailer’s marketing materials included predictable options that were generated on a somewhat repetitive editorial schedule- spring, fall, and holiday catalogs; regular and seasonal advertisements placed to generate the biggest impact at the least cost; sales sheets for buyers; and perhaps some direct mail pieces timed to hit desks and counter-tops at just the moment potential buyers are expected to be most receptive.
But for today’s e-tailer, the well-defined editorial calendars of yesterday that established the year-to-year routines of the marketing, merchandising and creative teams have been become more complex. In the virtual multi-channel marketplace, e-tailers face a never-ending challenge to meet the voracious demand for a continuous supply of updated content.
In this fast-paced climate of overlapping demands, no single approach will work for every every company. Every business has its own personality, culture, and organizational needs. The processes implemented, collaboration between the individual segments of each organization is crucial to its success. Neil Schuler of Schuler Creative Consulting suggests this three-step approach to creating a workable process:
- Identify the steps/tasks needed to complete a project and map out a timeline
- Identify the points of collaboration between the individual work teams and schedule face-to-face meetings at these points
- Establish a guide for each of these inter-team meetings, outline objectives, duration, required input, etc.
Another effective approach is gather teams to brainstorm, first identifying all of the projects and then enumerating every task or action item required to complete each project. Each task is assigned both a due date and an owner. The entire task list is available to all of the work teams, making it possible for all involved to assess progress on a personal, team and organizational levels. The task list becomes the agenda for regularly scheduled team and organizational meetings. As projects are completed and new ones enter the process, the task list is adjusted: completed tasks are removed, new ones are added and due dates are adjusted to meet the shifting flow of projects and priorities.
Both these approaches contain a common element: collaboration. By working together to create a work process, the individual teams within an organization benefit. Rather than working in isolated groups, each team can gain an understanding of how the other teams operate and what challenges they face in accomplishing their tasks. And instead of simply feeling isolated, frustrated and overwhelmed by the demands of other groups, each team knows that the other groups understand the challenges they facing. And, finally, by working together regularly and communicating about tasks (rather than only when there is a demand or problem) , every team and each individual has the opportunity to take ownership of and responsibility for the success of both their personal projects and those of the entire organization.
In today’s competitive and content-hungry cross-channel marketplace, flexible and responsive organizations are most likely to succeed. By nurturing and developing a workforce that embraces a spirit of collaboration across work groups, your business will be in a better position to meet its goals and react quickly when new opportunities and new challenges present themselves.