From the Blog

It has taken me a couple of days to come down from the epic nerdgasm I experienced this past weekend, after using the new Virgin America website. Now that I’ve calmed down a little, and had a chance to organize my thoughts, the first thing I would like to say is: Bravo Sir Richard Branson. Bravo. You just keep on giving me reasons to admire you.

Image of website

So, why am I talking about this in the context of Customer Experience, as opposed to a mere website design? I think anyone who has flown Virgin and then uses the website will quickly understand the aesthetics. The virtually seamless cohesion between the experience of flying with Virgin America and booking tickets with this new website is nothing short of spectacular. Furthermore, by going completely responsive and rethinking the ticket purchasing and check-in process so it is optimized for interaction on any device, this vaults them beyond the competition -and makes our lives as travelers easier, and a little more fun, just like flying with them.

But it’s more than just the enigmatic Purplink (Purple + Pink) look and feel and fun and approachable editorial voice. Just one look at this vine demonstrating the new boarding pass and you will immediately realize somebody has genuinely thought about the needs of their customers (travelers) and then put those needs at the center of every decision they made with this evolution. A lot of organizations are talking about Customer Experience. Few of them are doing it. Even fewer are doing it this well.

And there’s a reason for that. Customer Experience is hard…And it requires sponsorship at the highest levels of an organization to get it right. The design of this experience was not lead by an IT project manager or a marketing director. It was lead by someone with the drive, vision, and, most importantly, the ability to reach across typical organizational silos and rally a cross-functional team around an elegant, simple objective: Reduce friction for our customers when they interact with us most frequently. Make their lives easy when they are on the go.

To that end, a hearty congratulations to Virgin’s CMO Luanne Calvert and the agency she selected for this project: Work & Co, for this stunningly beautiful extension of the Virgin America website. It’s clear these guys get it.

J.Boye logo I’m so excited to announce my first international speaking engagement at J.Boye 2014 in Aarhus, Denmark on November 5th, 2014.

Time: 15.15-16.00 Wednesday, 5. Nov 2014
Session: So Happy Together (Project Managers and Content Strategists are)
Track: Content Strategy

Abstract:
After fifteen years building CMS driven websites, there is one thing I wish more people were aware of: content matters. Sounds silly right? After all, the ‘C’ in ‘CMS’ stands for, well…Content. However, project stakeholders are often so wrapped up worrying about technical risks or marveling over new designs that content can nearly be forgotten or worse…Treated as an unimportant ‘detail’ to be figured out later.

If you’re a project manager, sponsor, or executive stakeholder, this is a far bigger risk than you may realize. However, all is not lost…In recent years the profession of content strategy has grown in size and skill at a geometric rate, while having an inversely proportional affect on the happiness and success of project managers, who were often left to deal with content considerations in the past.

In this session I’ll share a presentation exploring very practical ways to ensure content isn’t forgotten in your next project. We’ll look at 7 content related risks, and the 7 things you can do to mitigate them. Then we’ll open it up to Q&A and share experience, tips, and tricks on how to be more successful with content strategy and project management in general.

Jake DiMare presenting at J.Boye

Presenting at J.Boye 2014 Philadelphia

I’ve been providing professional digital strategy consulting to small & medium sized businesses, non-profits, and individuals outside of my day job for the last five years. I’ve also worked on many strategy engagements for globally recognized brands at my day job, both as a project manager and an individual contributor to deliverables.

However, this Tuesday will be my last day after almost ten years working as a full-time Digital Project Manager. I officially start my career as a Digital Strategist the following Monday. Now that strategy has become the primary focus of my professional contribution to the world, I thought it would be interesting and productive to take a step back and develop a better understanding of the roots of this area of work.

The goal of this self-directed ‘Hackademic‘ exercise is to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts of traditional business strategy, and look for ways to incorporate this knowledge with a current understanding and approach to digital strategy practice. In other words: What tools do traditional strategists use? What processes and frameworks do they follow? What value do they create? And, most importantly, how can I use traditional business strategy to be more effective Digital Strategist?

Follow the leaders

Information is like food: You are what you consume. For this reason, I really like the idea of beginning with a list of leaders I should be paying attention to. Fortunately, Twitter makes this very easy. Because this list isn’t only about understanding strategy in general, it includes individuals focused on digital strategy and content strategy, such as my current colleague Dave Wieneke who leads the Digital Strategy Practice at ISITE Design, as well as industry leading exemplars such as Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer at Harvard University. This list also includes leading business publications such as the Harvard Business Review and Knowledge@Wharton.

Next I went to Amazon and searched on topics including ‘strategy’ and ‘business strategy’. Under the circumstances I believe Amazon will generate better results than searching on Google because the ‘Customers also bought…’ feature will quickly lead to more value. Also, because I believe someone who wrote a best-selling book on topic as academic as business strategy probably gets it. The other obvious benefit to this approach is immediate access to their books.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy (including featured article “What Is Strategy?” by Michael E. Porter)
About halfway through this one. So far the big take-away is Michael Porter’s defining article ‘What is Strategy?’. The short version of the answer is: Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities.At this point you may be wondering: a different set of activities? Different than what? You’ll need to read the article for the answer to that.

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do BusinessA couple of people I admire tell me Clayton Christensen is an important compliment and counterpoint to Porter’s position on strategy. This one hasn’t arrived yet so I don’t have much to say about the book but I am captivated by Christensen’s contribution to the conversation on disrupting higher education, including this recent article on NY Times: Business School, Disrupted.

The Strategy Book: How To Think and Act Strategically to Deliver Outstanding Results
Rounding out the initial set of books to read, I would like to go with someone a little younger, who I personally identify with. Max Mckeown is a straight talking, engaging author and speaker on the subject, with an approachable and practical sensibility I would like to emulate. I’m about three quarters of the way through this book and I am really enjoying the modern case studies and introduction to standard strategy tools, such as Porter’s Generic Strategies.

Test your mettle, MOOC style

At every inflection point in my career I’ve relied heavily on books to accelerate my climb up the front side of the learning curve, with good results. But today there is a whole new class of resources available, which I’d be a fool to ignore: Massively Open Online Courses. That’s why I’ve signed up for Coursera’s Foundations of Business Strategy, taught by Professor Michael Lenox of the University of Virginia. It promises I will learn how to analyze an organization’s strategy and make recommendations to improve its value creation by building your strategist’s toolkit. Unlike books, I will have an opportunity to discuss what I’m learning with the instructor and the other students who are attending the course.

Open to discussion

I think another vital step in hacking your way to understanding any subject is to discuss it, a lot. In the past this might have been a bit of a challenge for individuals taking a deep dive on something as unique as strategy, without the benefit of a traditional classroom experience. However, today there’s really no excuse for a lack of community. At any moment I have access to online groups, communities, forums, meetups, and literally thousands of open conversations happening on the social web via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and more.

To that end, I’d like to engage in this conversation: Who are the leading voices in strategy you follow? Please leave your comments here, or connect with me on Twitter and let’s chat.

Jun
01

Agency Oasis

It’s official: After almost 10 years of pushing projects for some of the world’s best, boutique, digital design and development shops, I’m taking a big, bold step. I’ve been retained by Agency Oasis to begin my career as a full time Digital Strategist in their new Los Angeles office, and I couldn’t be more excited! I begin working with them on June 16th here in Boston while Jackie and I sell our condo and plan the move to LA. We plan to be there by Labor Day.

Leaving the team at ISITE Design was not an easy decision. I’ve never learned or grown as much as I have during my time working with Jeff Cram and Dave Wieneke and my teammates at ISITE are the greatest group of people I’ve ever worked with. That said, this decision was about my career and where I see it going in the long-term and Agency Oasis has given me an opportunity I simply could not pass up.

Outside of work, life is equal parts excitement, anticipation, and terror…Selling our home, changing careers, moving to a new city…Any of these things on their own would be incredibly stressful. Mixing them together all at once? This is not an experience for the faint-of-heart. But I’ve got an incredible partner in Jackie and I’ve done this before…With far less experience, resources, and wisdom than I have at my disposal today.

Leaving Boston…Also not an easy choice. These last ten years have been the best of my life because of the friends and community surrounding Jackie and I here in our hometown. It’s hard to quantify something like community…But you know it when you have it…And we do. But I don’t just have a job waiting for me in LA…My brother Max and some of my best friends in the world are in Southern California. Plus, they’ve got year round sailing in LA…And no snow. Life is good.

So now, as I make the leap from helping people build their digital customer experiences right, to helping people build the right digital customer experiences, I leave you with this…All the wisdom I have on digital project management summed up in a GIF reaction tumblr:

http://whatshouldwecallmeprojectmgmt.tumblr.com/

I'm a Speaker at DrupalCon PortlandI just got notice that I’ve been selected to speak at DrupalCon this year! This will be my first time speaking at the premier, annual Drupal community event.  The title of my session is So Happy Together (Content Strategists and Project Managers Are) and I will be talking about, well, content strategy and project management. This session will actually be based on a blog article by the same title I wrote for the CMS Myth last year.

Content strategy is a great subject for anyone close to web publishing to get familiar with. It’s a rapidly growing field that gives appropriate respect and consideration to the reason why we design, build and deploy CMS driven websites in the first place: the content. In terms of the real though leaders in the space, I recommend following:

Although I hope to have some useful thoughts to share on the subject of content strategy as it relates to the overall success of a web CMS rollout…These incredibly talented women have (literally and figuratively) wrote the book on the subject. They’ve written a couple books, in fact: