on Travel

Like a first-year university student before a big assignment, the rapidly approaching Business Agility Conference means many late nights and early mornings (sadly, some days at the same time). I’m certain my natural cynicism (not unlike a second-year student) will catch-up to me shortly, but today I remain excited and enthusiastic. At the risk of sounding hippy, I am in a place where I draw my energy from my work rather than let my work drain my energy.

My biggest work focus right now is redeveloping the Business Agility Library. When we started the library, I had a vision of hundreds of case studies and references to help organisations on their journey (we’ve carefully avoided any “body of knowledge” association as most peoples reaction at the start was “not another bloody Bok”).  Wikipedia had been our guiding metaphor, so it was fairly logical for us to adopt Mediawiki, the platform behind Wikipedia. However, as is fairly obvious to anyone who’s been online in the last 20 years, Wikipedia isn’t the most user-friendly of interfaces. I may donate every year, but even I think that it looks like a typewriter fell in love with a dictionary.

It comes as no surprise that over the last year, we’ve had a number of “polite” comments about how we might improve the Library. The consensus is that if it were easier to navigate, it will reach more people and serve our mission better.

And so, I have turned to my past. A long time ago I was a web developer. I had thought (hoped) that I had left those days far behind. But over the last few days, those skills have been very helpful. In the course of a week, I have totally re-engineered the Library. Building on the new Domains of Business Agility, I developed a new Library interface on our main website. It uses all of the styles and structures of the website with the contents and depth of the wiki. This had also involved copying the content from the wiki to the website. Hundreds of articles and case studies; hence the late nights. Sadly, this is not something that I can easily outsource.

Let me explain why–there are two kinds of outsourcing: tasks and outcomes.

I can quickly outsource a task, as long as I can define it to be easily understood and replicated. A real example, we wanted to create printed versions of the 15 best case studies in our Library to give away at the conference. I selected the case studies, created a mockup in Word, and then engaged someone from Fiver to turn the vision into a reality for the rest.

Outsourcing outcomes is very different. The benefits are exponentially higher, but so is the investment of time and effort. The challenge with the Library is that, when moving each article, case study, or video to the other site, we have the opportunity to make small improvements to each one. This can only be delegated to an expert; someone with the time and expertise to truly” own” the library. And today, I don’t have that person. Soon, but not today.

And so, it is two o’clock in the morning and I am painstakingly moving content between systems.

Evan’s status report
Feeling: Inspired to create
Where in the world: On my way to Denver
One big thing: Data migration (a fancy way of saying copy and paste)

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