little girl yelling at cow

Workflow Wars

What could be more fun on a Monday morning than thinking about conflict on your marketing team? This one is closer to home than you might think. Teaching a group to blog together can stir up unexpected problems.

Lets picture this writer and editor:

little girl yelling at cow

Rob emails Mary a newsletter article draft for review. Mary prints it out, writes in a few corrections and notes- some word choice suggestions and some mechanical errors. Rob makes the changes and emails the final draft for Mary’s approval. Mary only has one more suggestion, a title change. She returns the draft with the new title written in and affixes a note with approval to run the article. Next thing you know, the two are barely speaking. You had your blog schedule and topics all planned out, and here’s this whole new animal. What happened?

Mary: “Rob is a good writer but he makes me print out his drafts myself and doesn’t even say thank you. It’s disrespectful of my position and just annoys me.”

Rob: “Mary is a great editor but she needs to get with the times. She prints out every single suggestion and glares at me as she piles each one on my desk. Forget learning document markup, she can’t just tell me about a title change in the response email? It’s insulting my intelligence and really wasteful.”

Here, Rob feels like he’s being “graded” because he is accustomed to receiving draft suggestions electronically. Mary considers paper proofs necessary to edit writing and finds Rob’s emails annoying and discourteous.

There is a lot more going on here than paper vs. email.

The lesson here is that the human element is an enormous component of information sharing. At it’s heart, this is a collaboration process. Disparaging organizational methods, if unfettered, will at the least impede colloboration. At worst the different realms and styles will create a rift in the staff- a war pitting “paper-loving Luddites” against “monitor-zombies.” The fix for this situation is twofold: create workflow policies and facilitate empathy among staff. These two will be an unstoppable team if they are separately brought to some mutual understandings.

An outside consultant is the perfect solution to streamlining your process. A priceless bonus is having a neutral third party on hand during a time of change.

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