A lot of companies are attracted to “level playing fields” like social media marketing. The small business is given the same tools and resources as some of the largest companies on the planet.
Yet, we still see that larger companies can build faster product and provide quicker support. Take Amazon for example: still beating out local companies with their 2-day shipping and better prices.
Bill Walsh’s comments on preparing for a Super Bowl in The Score Takes Care of Itself need to be read by all business leaders:
I might do even less strategizing for a Super Bowl game, because in the midst of the extreme pressure I placed a premium on fundamentals, the skills and the execution ability the team already possessed as a result of our concentration and hard work going all the way back to day one of training camp and the previous training camp and the one before that.
Why is this so important? Isn’t it a little overbearing?
When you establish a culture of excellence and provide your team the tools they need to standardize everything, crunch time becomes less of a headache. The “Super Bowl” of your industry doesn’t require any more preparation because you are practicing for it every day.
I’ve learned that a good business takes talented individuals, and uses processes and standards of performance to meld these individuals into an unstoppable machine.
Facebook changes go along with their core algorithm and message, and a lone developer can’t change the News Feed without running through checks, tests, and other systems to ensure it fits within the overall vision of the company.
A lot of small and medium-sized companies struggle with this issue. In fear of being too draconian (or, honestly, just not paying attention to the importance of a strict culture) the company will give too much freedom and not enough structure to their staff. Later, the owner or executive comes back furious that a task had not completed as expected. This company has an expectation that, since they hire experts, the experts should be left to their own devices and “do their job” without interference.
Unfortunately, this mentality assumes that human beings are not only perfect but also mind readers. I can tell a new employee that I want a social media post to go out for every holiday. The said employee assumes I mean banking holidays, and is confused when I am upset over a missed St. Patrick’s Day post. A missing requirement is to blame. I did not provide proper communication on what I was looking for.
A lot of organizations rely too heavily on their “shining” executives and staff members. The organization knows that if you just call Brent, the superhero project lead, he always gets things done. This is a dangerous mistake! What happens when Brent goes on vacation? What happens when he accepts a better job offer or decides that he wants to join the Peace Corps?
There’s no denying that Brent’s expertise is still valuable to the organization. This type of person can help contribute to and build a company ecosystem based on his knowledge and way of doing things. Standardizing his work means that things will be done his way — the right way.
Enter the Wiki. Now, anytime Brent is writing a piece of communication to a client or an employee that applies to more than just the person he is communicating with, it belongs in the wiki. The wiki is full of processes (how to do things like “write a social media plan”), standards of performance (detailed requirements for each individual’s job title and role) and finally, checklists that can be used to ensure tasks will be done correctly.
I’ve settled on using Zoho Wiki to communicate this vital part of my business’ brand culture. Initially, I messed around with several different tools. First I tried to build my own (too time consuming) then I turned to an off-the-shelf hosted version (something I could host and edit on my own server). Finally, I decided on Zoho Wiki for it’s simplistic, no-frills approach.
The wiki solves the problem of bringing all of the company’s information into a centralized, searchable format. New employees can search for topics (“Website QA Checklist”), and seasoned employees can add or edit content to streamline our day-to-day processes.
Before setting up our wiki, we relied on Google Drive. Using folders and files in Google Drive worked to a certain extent, but it wasn’t nearly as beneficial as using a Wikipedia clone to share and digest information. Since a lot of web users are familiar with using Wikipedia, this removes some learning curves.
It makes answering a lot of questions easier too. “What should we do to QA this website?” is simply answered with, “Did you search that on our Wiki?” When using Google Drive, it was harder to find relevant content and created a lot of “Where is the checklist for selling a new web design project in Google Drive?”
Using Zoho Wiki and adding all of our systems and processes to the cloud has had a significant impact here at Jay Nine, Inc. It’s easier to get more significant problems solved and cuts back on a lot of the back-and-forth that often slows down projects.