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LavaCon Recap and Calling In The Ghostbusters

There were so many memorable presentations at #lavacon2014 that I felt saturated. Content is King! Make a plan! Try new tools! It was energizing to be in the middle of it. The program was like an intellectual menu that stretched the mind.

One session still stands out for me, and I don't want to let go of it yet. Bill Swallow had a great Halloween-themed talk on "Content Strategy vs. The Undead." He used our favorite phantoms as metaphors for all the different chaos agents at your company. I want to paraphrase his talk below.


These undead entities seem to stumble from project to project with the same bad ideas and bad practices. Zombies represent the factors that cause you to make the same mistakes, over and over. One way to kill zombies is to bring in an outside agency like ThinkRHM3 to try new approaches.


Because they shun the light of day and live off your essential life force, corporate vampires are a symbol of how your company stifles innovation. When you hear someone in a meeting say, "We already tried that," or "That will never work here," you are witnessing vampires at work. They suck the energy from innovators and encourage safe, lifeless decisions. The silver crucifix that slays vampires is a program of "Innovation Days" and sponsored contests that encourage using work time once a month or every other sprint – to show that you encourage employees to think outside the box to solve challenges.


When you think of mummies, think of shambling forms who stumble forward relentlessly, bound by a centuries-old curse. They are stuck in the past, embalmed against progress, wrapped up by rules and process dogma that cannot be challenged. The cure for mummies is a change-agent, preferably a project manager who can control projects and keep things moving.


There are so many apt metaphors you can apply to this famed undead creature. He could represent what a project looks like when too many stakeholders won't negotiate—a hideous stitched-together nightmare of mismatched requirements, vague specifications, and rushed implementation. Or perhaps Frankenstein is the result of one person challenging the laws of nature and thinking they can do something they should not do? If you see hints that this unfortunate creature resides where you work, you should get your team aligned on common, realistic goals. Otherwise your content creation project will scare off your future customers.


The final member of the undead who roams your corridors in search of vices is the ghost. Think of invisible creatures moaning over past failures, warning and whining. They live in the past, warning of impending disaster, bound by historic norms.

So, Who you gonna call? The corporate equivalent of Ghostbusters would be a full team that never looks back. Instead of Ray, Egon, Peter, and Winston, dressed in funny work clothes and wielding proton packs, you have another option. We can put into place a content creation team of writers, editors, project managers, and technical gurus to slay all your undead entities. We have the tools, with our plans and processes, and we have the talent, with decades of experience. Give us a chance, and free yourself from those content creation demons.

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