Many social media projects face the trailblazers conundrum. None of their company’s policies or procedures was written with social media or community networking in mind. Best practices are rare and guidance from corporate governance is nearly nonexistent. You face the added challenge of being the experiment while trying to be responsible, successful, and accountable. You will never be able to mitigate all the risk and uncertainty from that situation. What you can do is be proactive and address what you need to be successful and accountable. Local processes that are the “right thing to do” and vetted by the team using them are ideal for this purpose.
Aside from documenting your process according to the guidelines in the previous post, our experience with local processes is very simple and can be boiled down to a few rules.
1. DECIDE IF A PROCESS OR PROCEDURE IS REALLY NECESSARY. REALLY.
The first question you should ask is: Do I need this procedure to “do the right thing” and to show others in the company that we are “doing the right thing?” Generally, if it fills an un-addressed gap in global procedure, mitigates a risk identified at the Project Charter stage, or provides a wrapper for ongoing inventories of exceptions or content, it is worth it. If you are reasonably covered by existing work practices and corporate compliance requirements then think hard about adding another layer of complexity to what you maintain. Can you be accountable and transparent with what you already have? The exposure of social media provides much of the transparency on its own.
2. BULLETS AND OUTLINES BEAT TEXT.
Make the process simple enough that anyone could build the visual flow of it in their mind within a few minutes of reading it. Succinct bullets, or better, providing the graphic guidance is preferable to using corporate speak, legalese, or excessive adverbs. Checklists are preferable for quantitative judgments and decision diagrams are preferable for qualitative judgments.
3. THE TEAM OWNS IT.
Ask the team executing the work if it’s worth it. Ask those who provide compliance guidance if it is required. Ask the person who will have to maintain it if it is worth it. Go a step further. Give the team the goals and ask them to WRITE it and decide where to keep it. Have them elect the procedure owner. If the team expresses hesitation in being a part of the collaboration, you can expect the same hesitance in complying with the procedure, once established. This rule can be a deal breaker and may require facilitation by the project owner to help frame the need to the team appropriately, so they can get behind the reason for the documentation or working process.
4. LIVE BY IT
If you build it, live by it. If you do a periodic temperature check and realize that the process is no longer useful, change it, replace it or abandon it. Just document your decision and add it to your best practices and retrospective agenda. You must also support your process with the right tools. If your support software, third party applications, or even hardware don’t support the process, you will run into yet another barrier to success. Go into the process creation process understanding that every process or procedure requires an investment for someone, the team, the owner, the document—er nearly everyone on the team.
WHAT WE FOUND TO BE WORTH IT…
Here are a few local processes we found worth the time and effort to create and live by, as did our team.
- Pre-qualified Commenters: A process that provides the training and authorization for social media posters to be pre-qualified to speak on behalf of the team
- Developers Launch Checklist: For hosted or administered platforms a checklist to assist in ensuring corporate compliance at launch
- Blogging Style Guide: More a guideline and less a process, this document succinctly summarizes our voice and mission for our bloggers.
- Risk Assessments: We have several locally built risk assessment tools that compile corporate risk factors with those we consider important to acknowledge before a project’s launch. In short, the real and necessary risks are compiled into one or more tools for evaluation.
WHAT YOU SHOULD END UP WITH…
A library of checklists, outlines and diagrams that are easily digestible, stand on their own, and are owned and managed by the team. If they can’t live without the project manager, they probably shouldn’t live in the first place.
IS THAT ALL?
Local processes are the last administrative aspect to “doing the right thing”. Next time, we’ll talk about touting, the team, and how to build the team behavior that drives unity of vision and of voice.