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May 21, 2018

Content strategy versus human nature

Implementing a content strategy is tricky. Technical issues bubble up to the surface as challenges, but those issues usually have direct solutions. The real elephant in the room isn’t technology; it’s human nature.

Human nature can thwart a content strategy implementation. To succeed, you will need a solid change management plan and a shared willingness to keep yourself in check.

Tackling human nature with change management

The term “change management” often comes with a negative connotation; it’s seen as a means of correcting bad behavior. This doesn’t have to be the case.

European brown bears playfully interactingWhile there may be some active opposition to working a different way, quite a bit of opposition may be subconscious. Opposition may also be an indication that new skills training is required.

Proper training is critical, and that includes clear, consistent communication about why things are changing. When opposition is voiced, favor conversation over correction. Build a mutual understanding about where the opposition is coming from, and what the goals of the new approach are. You just may discover a new content strategy requirement or a better approach to adopt.

Passive-aggressive behavior and outright refusal to change is more difficult to manage. If conversations go nowhere, then corrective action may be necessary.

Tackling human nature on a personal level

Self-checks are important when navigating change. As someone affected by change, it’s important to understand your own reactions. Ask yourself:

  • Why does this bother me?
  • What can I do to change my perception?
  • What can I do or what do I need to approach this better?

dog sheepishly looking upwardAs a content strategist, this level of introspection is even more critical. Your implementation will undoubtedly encounter technical or workflow-based roadblocks. You may also learn of new requirements late in the game, or encounter other obstacles such as funding issues or time constraints.

These obstacles can seem daunting, and can often result in knee-jerk reactions. It’s important to keep yourself in check, take a step back, BREATHE, and think things through.

Your first instinct may be to tackle the issue head-on, or to dive into the weeds of a technical issue to figure out a solution. By taking a step back, you will allow yourself time to process the reaction and approach the issue with a clear head. You may also prevent a cascade of new issues caused by a hasty response to the issue (such as creating more work or upsetting others involved in your implementation).

Human nature is unavoidable, but it can be managed. And, you just may learn something in the process.