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Build Systems, Not Stuff

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This presentation is for anyone who has had technical, strategic and/or budgetary constraints influence what was built vs. what was imagined. We will dig into how to use systems-based thinking to understand how things influence one another and learn techniques to discover constraints sooner. We will learn how to start creating efficiencies of digital process, infrastructure and communication in pursuit of better user experiences.

Build Systems, Not Stuff

  1. Build Systems, Not Stuff Presented by @Abby_the_ia 1
  2. 2
  3. I Make the unclear, clear for people who use and make things. 3
  4. 4 4
  5. Most recently I Have helped • Change the audience for Sharpie from a office supply consumer to teenagers looking for a self expression tool • Grow a 150,000 member Facebook fan base for JELL-O over the weekend. • Pilot a revolutionary diet for people with Type 2 diabetes • Analyze and strategically prioritize digital marketing efforts and improvements for Herman Miller in support of their movement into the B to C market 5
  6. I hear a lot of the same things over and over... Our current digital marketing is: A) Embarrassingly out of date B) Not flexible enough to support needs C) Not able to be affected quickly because of politics and the bureaucracy D) All of the Above (Eeeeekk) 6 6
  7. The behavior of the system cannot be known just by knowing the elements - Donella Meadows 7 7
  8. Meet the Blind men of digital marketing “I post on social media and send emails” “I control the money” “I manage the Websites” “I design the marketing” 8 8
  9. Observation: Its always the same issues affecting the same parts of the same systems 9 9
  10. We need to build systems, not just stuff. 10 10
  11. When Stuff is king... 11 11
  12. Spray-n-Pray is common wisdom 12 12
  13. Corporate Underpants start to show 13 13
  14. Shiny, dusty objects accumulate 14 14
  15. Trends win out over needs 15 15
  16. “Skunkworks” projects used to achieve tactical goals 16 16
  17. Everyone feels rushed and underserved 17 17
  18. We ask for more stuff We need a Facebook page vs. We need a Digital Recruitment engine 18
  19. Sound familiar? 19 19
  20. There has to be a better way 20 20
  21. But we arent in manufacturing! 21 21
  22. isnt Creativity meant to be messy? 22 22
  23. One important (and easy) question: How should we spend our finite creative energy? 23 23
  24. By analyzing the system, maybe we can improve the User experience of working in digital marketing 24 24
  25. Systems-based thinking the process of understanding how things influence one another.  viewing "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific part. focusing on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect. 25 25
  26. When System is king... • Effectiveness becomes measurable • Solutions have longevity and reuse • Entities are able to remain in sync while operating independently • Adequate time and budget is allocated • People feel like things just work 26 26
  27. Reinventing the Wheel Repeatable Magic 27 27
  28. Systems Thinking 101 28 28
  29. A system is a set of stocks and flows that is interconnected in a way that it produces a predictable pattern. 29 29
  30. STocks: Assets within your organization that are able to be measured for example: • Knowledge of industry trends • Marketing Budget • Creative Talent 30 30
  31. Flows: Process that affects and connects stocks for example: • How insights become strategy • How designers are briefed on architectural decisions • How code is accepted in development 31 31
  32. Cold hard Facts about systems 1. Levels of stock are only able to be affected by manipulating flows 2. Stocks take time to change, because flows take time to flow 32 32
  33. another fact: Digital Marketing is a system 33 33
  34. 34 34
  35. Digital Marketing: A common system 35 35
  36. Digital Marketing: A common system 36 36
  37. If you are doing it right, you start here 37 37
  38. Digital Marketing: A common system 38 38
  39. But, a lot of people start here... 39 39
  40. Digital Marketing: A common system 40 40
  41. And even here... eek! 41 41
  42. Digital Marketing: A common system 42 42
  43. A lot of people stop here. 43 43
  44. Digital Marketing: A common system 44 44
  45. and This part is almost always ignored or weak 45 45
  46. there are shared lessons that all organizations can learn from 46 46
  47. Five common system failures 47 47
  48. 48 48
  49. What’s supposed to happen 49 49
  50. What can also happen 50 50
  51. Symptoms • brittle feeling interactions • Not knowing all the incarnations of the experience • Not being able to defend cost of improvement 51 51
  52. Diagnosis: Low Awareness of how something works today leads to bad strategy You need to work on research. 52 52
  53. Idea to Combat: Measure quality of existing systems: 1. Heuristically 2. Analytically 3. With real users 53 53
  54. 54 54
  55. Lets try to find a way to apply online 55 55
  56. 56 56
  57. 57 57
  58. 58 58
  59. Symptoms • All the content is there and nothing can be found • No research has been done into what users want • Low conversion and roi 59 59
  60. Diagnosis: Lack of clear goals and key performance indicators leads to confounding experience You need to work on goal setting 60 60
  61. Idea To Combat: Define S.M.A.R.T Goals and a plan to measure against them q Specific q Measurable q Achievable q Relevant q Time bound 61 61
  62. 62 62
  63. 63 63
  64. Symptoms • Content feels forced into boxes it doesnt fit into • things are jimmied together • Creative production always costs more than expected and often assets are reused inappropriately 64 64
  65. Diagnosis: silo-ed decisions on content degrade quality of experience offered You need to work on architecting 65 65
  66. Idea to COmbat: Let the users make the call when content organization challenges arise. Card sorting, contextual inquiry and collaborative design can all be used for this. 66 66
  67. 67 67
  68. 68 68
  69. 69 69
  70. Symptoms • Devices and tools are devised to assist people in understanding the marketing material • Navigation is bloated, landing pages lack focus • Functionality is heavy and unneeded 70 70
  71. Diagnosis: Too many things, no priority. SUch a mess. You have to work on documentation 71 71
  72. idea to Combat: Create a roadmap of features defined not just against resources available but against user and business goals 72 72
  73. 73 73
  74. h,p://ausweb.scu.edu.au/aw05/papers/refereed/alexander/paper.html 74 74
  75. Diagnosis: NEver completing the feedback loop. You need to work on measurement 75 75
  76. Idea to Combat: Host a conversation with designers, marketers and researchers to talk about improving the flow of strategic guidance and insight 76 76
  77. How to get started in your organization 77 77
  78. to Become a system advocate in your organization 78 78
  79. Lesson 1: You need pictures, because systems happen all at once. 79 79
  80. Pictures are thought starters 80 80
  81. Pictures allow you to see the connections 81 81
  82. pictures allow quick illustration of problems and solutions 82 82
  83. Pictures are great for understanding the systems, roles and rules 83 83
  84. Pictures can illustrate a higher level view 84 84
  85. Lesson 2: Evaluate the System as is • Get the right people in the room to discuss the results of the current digital marketing environment • Document it in simple pictures, perhaps stocks and flows • Highlight hardships you feel today or know about externally 85 85
  86. Lesson 3: Take Stock of what you need • Identify the goals you have for your digital marketing • Identify the obligations you have to meet for stakeholders • Identify the things colleagues have complained about or asked for 86 86
  87. Lesson 4: Prioritize issues to work on • Identify the issue type. Is it a lack of resource, bad process, old technology? • Determine how much (and who) it hurts? • Assign a internal and external priority 87 87
  88. Lesson 5: Try New flows • Get the space, team and instance needed to experiment. • Make sure people know they are guinea pigs • Treat it as a research assignment (try A/B testing, and asking followup questions in a focus group etc...) • Document what you are trying, why and how you feel it will change things 88 88
  89. Lesson 6: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle • Reduce the complexity across initiatives • Reuse technological investment across campaigns, building an arsenal of owned solutions over time • Recycle your “stuff”: Always think about the lifecycle of the “stuff” your systems are producing. 89 89
  90. Lesson 7: Have the right attitude • Be honest and transparent • Be collaborative • Be forward looking • Be willing to fail and try again 90 90
  91. So... Next time someone asks for stuff 91 91
  92. Think... How can we take this up a level? Are we thinking about the life cycle? Can we measure our impact here? Who else is impacted by this and how can they help solve this? 92 92
  93. How can we... Build a system, not just more stuff 93 93
  94. Thanks! @abby_the_ia Abbytheia.com abbycovert@gmail.com 94 94
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This presentation is for anyone who has had technical, strategic and/or budgetary constraints influence what was built vs. what was imagined. We will dig into how to use systems-based thinking to understand how things influence one another and learn techniques to discover constraints sooner. We will learn how to start creating efficiencies of digital process, infrastructure and communication in pursuit of better user experiences.

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