Tag Archives: strategy

Content strategy, service design and physical objects

I had the opportunity to begin learning about content strategy in the last two months or so.

I’ll probably have more to say on how this changed my perspective in thinking about a lot of things in another post. Sarah Wachter-Boettcher’s book  Content everywhere: strategy and structure for future-ready content got me started and Jonathon Colman’s Epic List of Content Strategy Resources pointed me to more great resources on the topic.

I might have stumbled across the term content strategy in Milan Guenther’s book Intersection: how enterprise design bridges the gap between business, technology and people. The enterprise design framework uses 20 aspects (organised in 5 layers) of design work in an enterprise context. The second layer, anatomy, includes these aspects: actors, touchpoints, services, content.

I was happy to find a strong element of service design in the framework, but thought emphasising the content aspect odd. Well, maybe for mostly digital services that made sense… But what about (physical) evidence? But then I’ve had issues with overemphasising service evidence, too.

By now I see the point in discussing content (strategy) at this layer in the framework, but I still feel uneasy about the (state of the discussion) of physical objects in service design. (Or am I just not reading the right stuff or talking to the right people?) Thinking of physical objects (including goods, physical products) as vehicles for provisioning services (as discussed by Dave Gray, among others) seems promising. Physical objects can certainly also be vehicles for delivering content. (We could also view content delivery as a type of services.) And then there’s a role for physical objects in a service evidence context (in a narrow sense, please).

Is it time to bring these thoughts together and elevate the discussion of physical objects in service design?

2014-09-21: Tom Graves has written a brilliant post titled From Product To Service.

Content strategy: a new chance for benefitting from domain modelling?

I have been interested in domain modelling for a long time. Analysis Patterns by Martin Fowler, Domain-Driven Design by Eric Evans and Streamlined Object Modeling by Jill Nicola, Mark Mayfield & Mike Abney greatly influenced my thinking and (some of) my work.

(The fundamental concepts described in Streamlined Object Modeling might actually be some of the most under-appreciated ideas in software development and information modelling.)

While I understood the benefits of good domain models early on, I can only recall one project incorporating a domain model into its software. Even when technology was able to effectively support implementing domain models, many developers seemed happy to read and write data structures to persistent storage manually and to manipulate these data structures with imperative code. To project managers, these things were probably too abstract, too invisible and too far removed from the myriad of immediate concerns they had to deal with in parallel.

And, of course, I probably didn’t make my point as well as I could have.

I was intrigued when I learned that content strategist had discovered domain modelling (and in particular Eric Evans’ work) for their purposes. Content strategists, if you read this, go and read Analysis Patterns and Streamlined Object Modeling, too — I’ll still be here when you’re done.

As I’m learning about content strategy and content management systems, I get a hunch (hope?) that this might actually be another chance to bring the benefits of domain modelling to the enterprise. This might be another chance to benefit from structured, connected and annotated information, and achieving objectives by interpreting these connections and annotations rather than writing lots and lots of imperative statements in code, process charts, rule lists or, for some of us, PowerPoint and Excel.

Content is likely to be much more tangible and immediately accessible to stakeholders than domain models ever where — as almost everyone has an opinion as to what needs to happen on the corporate website, I’m confident many stakeholders can be nudged into having an interest in content.

Let’s see how far I get this time…

Positioning for professionals

Tim Williams (see previous post) is the author of Positioning for professionals: how professional knowledge firms can differentiate their way to success (Wiley, 2010), an excellent book that was well worth every minute I spent with it. The examples focus on advertising agencies but are applicable to a wide range of professional services firms, including business and technology consulting firms.