In an earlier post I talked about the Ask as a fundamental part of any project, and of the need to be aware of what Asks we make of collaborators, partners, possible funders and not least ourselves. This post will look at another need, one that predates those Asks and give them the sound foundation needed for them to have a chance to be put forth successfully. This is about knowing what you want to do, why you want to do it, how you want to do it and how you structure it all in a meaningful way.
I’ve watched and talked to, listened to and mentored quite a few projects, not to mention developed and produced a number of my own. They’ve roamed all across platforms and genres – from edutainment shows on TV to VR productions, from online documentaries to corporate storytelling campaigns. Most of them would have benefited from a more thorough structure and foundation.
Some have had their focus pinpointed on technical prowess; how the images are produced and presented, or how the interaction flows between user and content. Others have been firmly rooted in the story itself and an urge to explain about a certain event, a certain fate, a certain person or suchlike. These focused parts of the projects have, however, often carried with them a lack of attention when it has come to other details.
What you need to do is make sure anyone who comes in contact with your project gets it from the start. Who is doing what? What is the desired outcome? Who are being targeted? How is it going to make money? If you can answer these questions in a credible way that’s easy to grasp, you will be looking at success in one way or another.
There are tools to help you on your way. Simon Sinek’s method of looking at the circles of What, How and Why will help you define and redefine the core of your business or your project, help you stand out from the crowd and help you not get lost in intricacies and dead-end alleys along the course of the project.
The NABC method is a very useful one when it comes to assessing your project in a wider context, helping you position yourself in relation to other, similar ventures. It will also help you identify weak spots in your planning and in your planned rollout.
All of these critical looks at your own project are absolutely necessary, especially when it comes to adding other people and organisations and companies to the mix. The clearer you can explain things to them and get them onboard rapidly, the better and earlier you can make use of their expertise. You don’t want adoring followers, you want partners and collaborators that can challenge your ideas and your work and make it better than you could make it on your own.
And, in an age of startups and quick money, set aside enough time for all of these processes to actually impact what you are trying to do. Allow for time to fail and adjust to the learning from those fails. Allow time for other people to tag onto your trajectory and support you – and be supported in turn.
Most importantly – story-wise, organisation-wise, communication-wise and outreach-wise – strive for a clear internal structure that makes absolute external sense.