Posted on January 2018
Frank: I can't wait for the Big Game on Sunday.... The Patriots vs the Eagles in Super Bowl LII. I loved watching the Patriot Ducklings getting ready for the big game.
Doug: I'm with you Frank, but you might want to know that an analysis of our Simply XML Newsletter readership raises some concerns. About 40% of our newsletter subscribers live outside of the United States. To them, football is what you and I refer to as soccer. Our colleague James calls it "American Rugby." They don't really care about the big game.
Frank: I suppose the other 60% are going to watch the game. Lots of them will, no doubt, be cheering for the Patriots.
Doug: I've got more bad news for you, Frank. Over 80% of our US residents live outside of New England. I'm afraid, Frank, that less than 10% of our Newsletter readers will be rooting for the Patriots. The rest of the country hates the Patriots and probably wants the Philadelphia Eagles to win.
Frank: So, are you saying that in addition to you and me only about 5-10% of our readers are going to root for the Patriots?
Doug: They will never like the Patriots, Frank, but there are some things that most people can like and respect about the Patriots and all winning sports teams. You and I are "old guys" with lots of experience in structured writing and structured mark-up. I'd like to think that, working with customers and prospects, we model a lot of the things that make sports teams successful. We embrace agile and the concept of continuous improvement. We try to learn from every engagement and help our customers and the industry to move forward. We are now "on to Minnesota."
ESPN had a great show last night about Bill Belichick and Bill Parcels who have been two of the best football coaches of all time. They respect each other, but are also what you would call "frenemies." Both are hard workers and extremely smart. Both are highly competitive and have driven their teams to excellence. Their knowledge and nuanced understanding of complex situations and required management actions is astounding. And they applied those factors to their teams to produce fantastic results. I'd like to think that you and I have a great understanding of the information consumer's need for better information, our software, and how to implement it. In various situations and industries this is commonly referred to by the Patriots as "situational football." In every trial we try to understand the environment and needs to coach the potential customer through the effective implementation of our product and services. We know what works and are quick to advise a customer on how to succeed as well as what might not work, or what might not be worth the investment.
Winning at any sport is not just about the best equipment and a level playing field. Athletes need both skills and training in order to maximize the positive impact of their athleticism. It is clear that performance results from ability, but also from training and attention to detail perhaps at a level we cannot really imagine. Simply XML's target authors have a pretty good understanding of sentence structure, grammar, and spelling. We help them understand how to structure their content into usable chunks that relate to the performance required of their information consumers (AKA readers). Structured writing is reader-focused and includes information typing to propel reader performance. It also includes some simple principles to make the content useful and actionable. In addition to MS Word-based software, we find that structured writing training is an often-missing ingredient in the success recipe for enterprise content management.
It is pretty obvious that teams need outstanding individual players. Specialization is critical and it is largely true that different positions require different individual skills. In business and in sports some amount of player versatility is required. Beyond the need for skill replacement due to injury or absence it is helpful for players to understand various points of view. This was true in Belichick's career where, on his way to "enterprise coach," he coached defense, special teams, and more. However, in football, you will rarely see a huge overlap between quarterbacks, kickers, and receivers, for each demands excellence from a specific set of skills. A Patriot motto is, "Do your job." This is similarly true where the enterprise content management team needs technologists, subject matter experts, authors, editors, and more. Everyone must do his/her job. An inappropriate emphasis on any one of the needed skills often yields failure. As that famous sports spouse Gisele Bündchen once pointed out about the best quarterback of all time, "Tommy cannot both throw the ball and catch it." And, so it is with enterprise content management. We find that most enterprise efforts have an excess of technologists and a lack of other players leading to an unrealistic implementation plan and poor results.
Equal to the importance of individual players management and staff need to form a team that is motivated and wins. Winning involves great skills, shared goals, great management, and doing your job with a realistic and practical plan.
Doug: Put it all together and your organization will win the enterprise content management game.
Frank: And then will everyone love the New England Patriots?
Doug: Probably not, Frank.