The Power Of The First Project

During a social network analysis class (not the Facebook type of social network), we were breaking down how work actually gets done in organizations when the instructor said,

“People in new positions fail because they don’t have the network needed to do their new job”

The quote meant a lot for me because I had just started a new role and because I have led groups that had new people in it many times. Finding out why some people in new roles fail and others thrive is very powerful information.

Relationships are key to getting work done in many organizations.

Here’s a great way to set up someone in a new role for success: make sure that the first couple projects they work on will increase the number of people they get to meet and start to build trust with in the new organization. Help them build a great network.

Maybe it’s not the most crucial project to the bottom line, but it could be the most crucial project to future success of the person you just hired, or yourself.

The Power of Small Comments

People often ask me how I was able to make the first switch within my Company from one group to another.  I had been in the IT group for about eight years at that point and then switched over into our Consumer Products Marketing group. Up until that time, going from IT to the Marketing group was not common and there might have only been one other person to do it before me, even though many talked about it.

While I’m sure my amazing abilities and born greatness for marketing had everything to do with it (sarcasm), one of the main factors was actually much simpler.

Shortly after starting to be the IT relationship leader for the Marketing group that I would eventually join, I went to an after-work happy hour event with the Marketing team.  While I was there, one of the senior leaders in the Marketing group and I started talking. I mentioned to him that “I had always wanted to try a position in the Marketing group.”

A year later, that same person called me up, reminded me of our conversation at the bar, and asked if I wanted a Marketing role within his team.

Because of that, I always try to remember the power of small comments:

  • never underestimate the power of a random / inconsequential conversation.
  • always seize an out of office conversation opportunity.
  • realize that the comments I make may have power, even if not immediately.
  • understand that people do remember what you say.
  • remember to communicate and tell people things that I want to happen.

So what can you tell someone about today?

The “Why Am I Here” Score

I looked up the websites of 75 different organizations in a particular industry for a small project. My goal was to look at the sites so I could figure out which of 6 or so different buckets that each of the organizations fell into. This would help me develop a plan to research the right ones more effectively.

Unfortunately, 65 of the 75 websites I went to did absolutely nothing in the first 2 clicks (I left each one after two clicks) to tell me

  1. what the organization offered
  2. identify any nugget of information that could help me categorize them effectively or
  3. help me understand how that organization made money (they were all for-profit ventures)

Bloated, confusing, jargon-filled mission statements and copywriting on the main pages of a company’s site do nothing to help the new visitor understand anything about the company or what to do next.

So, how about developing a way to quickly asses website (or other media) designs in terms of the consumer/customer/visitor and figuring out why they happens to be on the site in the first place? 

One simple way this could be evaluated is by whether or not someone knows what to do once they land on your homepage. There’s a ton more, but the overall message is to come up with some kind of generic benchmark (like CTR is a generic benchmark) that helps designers understand if they’re confusing the visitor.

How else could we measure this?

 

Failure Awards

Very similar to Beg Forgiveness Cards

How about creating an awards program in your group specifically to highlight failure.

Celebrating success is great, but celebrating failure could just lead to better success.

What else do you need to celebrate in your group to help entice more of that behavior?