If you missed out on LavaCon, stay tuned here. I’ll be posting some of my notes from the conference. It may be a little biased towards my own personal organizational needs (small business support content), but I’m hoping the content will be useful for others to review.

The content strategy track featured Pam Noreault of ACI Worldwide. She talked about how content professionals can take a chaotic content situation and own it via content management. Noreault focused on explaining the critical need to understand what our realities may be at our organizations, or for your clients for the consultants and agency-types reading this. Once we identify our reality, as painful and tear-inducing that it may be, we can act appropriately to see content initiatives into success.

The chaos stems from things like disparate content, having no standards, no repository to store content, no reuse methodology and other painful things. Noreault encourages us all to begin to think more proactively with our content initiatives, rather than continuing the reactive practices that leads to creating chaos. We can gain the courage to tackle content issues proactively by taking the time to understand our reality.

Understanding our content reality is accepting the quest for cultural change.

Hey, I know quests. I’ve played a crap ton of RPGs. You never quest alone. Noreault encourages us to accept this quest of undoing content chaos, but only if we’re brave enough and willing to build the relationships and alliances to do so. As we read in blogs all over and hear from other industry pros, the cultural change is necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t just flip the “awesome culture switch to GO” and call it that.

There are steps to take towards influencing colleagues and decision makers to provide you with the resources you need to undo the chaos, if the content madness is a pain to the organization. Some of the more resonant ones for me included:

Know where you are! By creating a “data baseline” through a substantive audit, you can know where you are, what’s missing and what you need to do in order to get the content situation from chaos into something a little more manageable. Using what we learn from that substantive audit, we’ll want to be sure to socialize our findings and results with key stakeholders and decision makers. So, it’s a bit knowing where we are, but also realizing that we need to let others in on this content and organization introspection and discovery.

It takes a small village. We may be content strategists, advocates of the user and the organization, the Red Mages of the web professions, but there’s no way we can pull it all off by ourselves. Like any RPG pro, you know you need a full party! Noreault reminds us that it takes others to join you on your quest. Stakeholders, sponsors, developers, content creators, SMEs and others all have a role and it’s up to us to lay the groundwork to accommodate everyone’s parts.

Advocate for change via evolution, not revolution.

Change can be rough for a lot of people. It’s especially so if people think that your content strategy initiative is trying to uproot them from their roles at an organization. Large organization or small, it’s another reminder to all content and web professionals to spend much more time on the discovery phase to understand everyone’s needs, expectations and intent before diving into projects.

Big thanks to Noreault for sharing her experiences at ACI Worldwide and giving us a glimpse that you can turn a chaotic situation into one of control. We can proactively manage our content if we’re willing to quest for the change that’s needed to support it.