Bringing people together around digital projects can be challenging, but is necessary for effective collaboration.
On day thirteen of our Content Strategy Advent Calendar Ellen de Vries shares 3 top tips for collaborating with content teams.
Hi, I’m Ellen de Vries and I’m a content strategist at Clearleft and welcome to today’s advent calendar and this is sage. He’s a cat.
I want to spend a little bit of time talking to you about content collaboration. Well, this is my favourite time of the year because we have this little ritual where we pull the chairs up closer to the fire, and we like to sit together and we spend time reading and the cat enjoys it as well, because it’s nice and warm, because it’s quite chilly outside.
I live in a little village just south of London so it’s quite quiet here. There’s not much to do in the evenings, so it’s just nice to sit by the fire. I like to think of content projects a little bit the same. I said earlier in the summer that digital projects are a little bit like a campfire. They are, ideally they’re central points of focus that draw people together and people can gather around, people can come and go, have discussions and then disappear off.
Ideally collaborations are like that. They’re a central point of focus and people come and go during the process. So I’ve got three tips that hopefully will help you focus more on that collaboration.
The first tip is to establish a shared mission. Establishing a mission can usually be for the project but there’s also an interesting idea for establishing a mission as a team. So often, content people, people working on a content project in a company, they need to really sort of establish themselves, especially if they’ve been drawn from different parts of the company. Sometimes you get people writing content in the marketing department, sometimes you get people in the digital department. So wouldn’t it be great it those people came together and established a shared mission for content and for what they would, what content means to them and to that team.
“Establishing a mission can usually be for the project but there’s also an interesting idea for establishing a mission as a team.”
The second tip that I want to give you is about establishing rituals. Now Christmas is a time of ritual. We have advent calendars, we have our own little ritual of pulling the chairs up closer to the fire. Teams who are trying to build a culture together, a sort of shared understanding, need to have regular rituals. Something that can be expected. Something that is like a daily routine. So I really like in the agile way of working, they have daily stand-ups. So a daily stand-up is a way of getting the team together. This is particularly important if your team is remote, if people are working in different countries all over the world. it’s just as important to try and establish, or even more important to establish rituals. So a stand-up, the ides is that basically people gather around, they stand-up and they say what they did yesterday, what they’re going to do tomorrow and tell each other whether there’s anything blocking them from working. This gives you a really strong idea of what everyone’s working on, on the project.
“Teams who are trying to build a culture together, a sort of shared understanding, need to have regular rituals.”
So that’s a stand-up but there’s another thing that we’ve been doing at Clearleft and just on internal projects, we’ve haven’t really been doing it with clients, but it’s finding ways at the beginning of a meeting to check-in with each other. It’s just an opportunity for everyone to go around the table and sort of honestly say, without being interrupted or without starting a conversation about it, just say where they’re at.
That’s really helped us to reduce the amount of assumptions that we make about one another during a meeting. Sometimes people are less engaged during meetings and you don’t want them to think, you don’t want to be thinking that this is about the project, you know, their lack of engagement. Often it’s something to do with something that’s going on in their life outside of work. So that’s rituals and check-ins and stand-ups.
Then then last thing that I want to talk about is this idea of education and sharing. Christmas is a time of sharing and so we’re really lucky in our work at Clearleft. We often get to work inside our clients’ companies and what we like to do is establish a central point of focus, a kind of hearth, a place that people come back to and that central point of focus is often like a little room or a wall space, where we put up things that we’ve been doing and allow people to participate and come and ask questions.
This is really important for content because it, are you going to sit down? Are you going to get comfy? It’s really important for content. Are you helping? It’s really important for content because content often doesn’t get much exposure in a company, so it’s often like one of the things that happens but people don’t really know how it’s happening or what’s going into it. It often takes quite a lot to explain, workflows and governance materials, so having a central point of focus and a space to share your content and educate the team, is a really helpful thing to do and if you’re working with remote teams you don’t have to do this as a wall space, you could do this as a blog or a shared whiteboard on Google, or you could send around a newsletter.
If you’re planning to pull up your chair and do a little bit of relaxing over Christmas and maybe do a bit of reading, I’ve written a very short and free book and it’s just a short book full of tips and techniques for collaboration and is really helpful for collaborating with content teams and it’s at collaboratebook.com.
So from me and Sagey, we both wish you a very lovely and restful festive season. Take care.
Ellen de Vries is a content strategist at Clearleft, a strategic design consultancy based in Brighton, UK. Being a content strategist is by nature a collaborative role; on any one day she might be working with a range of people, from designers and developers to animators and AI experts.
In a world where digital design practices are becoming increasingly fragmented, Ellen’s mission is to work with multi-disciplinary groups to establish a shared language that gives them a spark and propels their collaboration forward.
Ellen is also author of the free book, Collaborate: Bring people together around digital projects.