WHY “The Content Pool”?
The first step to answering that question is to consider what we mean by “content?”
The dictionary offers 11 different definitions of the word “content,” but the ones that concerns us here are:
1. something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts.
2. substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation.
Much has been written over the last twenty or so years on how we are now drowning in a sea of information. More information is being produced now than at any other time in human history. Information is all around us and is available to us in ways that just a few decades ago would have seemed like the wild imaginings of a science fiction writer. In many ways we take it for granted, but it is amazing that most of us can access almost unlimited resources of human knowledge and information with just a few button clicks or by running our fingers over a touch screen. We are becoming used to having vast amounts of information available and having the answer to any question be resolved almost immediately. We are all creating information, and content, every time we interact online.
I have often heard the lament that “no one writes any more.” The fact is that we are writing more than we ever have, it’s just that the medium and mechanism has changed from pen and paper to bits and networks. The explosive growth of social networks and the switch to texting as a primary source of communication have changed the landscape. With such changes in everyday life comes an expectation that the equivalent model also exists in the business world.
The lines between home and work are blurring, a shift that is also driven by the increase in virtual teams and the work anywhere mobile workforce; particularly in knowledge based industries where physical co-location may not be necessary and more people are transitioning away from the traditional office environment.
While we all have access to this sea of information, within a particular organization we need to contribute, collaborate, and have access to a set of information that is relevant to that organization. We all create, as well as consume, a collection of information that I refer to as “The Content Pool.”
The Content Pool and Why it’s Important.
Your content is where all your company’s intellectual property resides. Everything about your company, the products you produce, the way you operate and your plans for the future are captured in the content you produce as an everyday activity. From the simplest email, to internal policies and procedures, to technical manuals, marketing collateral, and websites, it’s all valuable information. And don’t forget your customers are also creating information about the way you and your products work (or don’t) on social networks, online forums, and various other collaborative venues. All that content is useful and needs to be identified, captured, and managed.
The cliche that “everyone is replaceable” is something of a truism, but it doesn’t apply to your content. Your content will outlast even the most loyal employees, but if you don’t realize that those same employees are also creating and contributing to The Content Pool, then you can lose significant amounts of institutional memory, with severe impact on your business.
In the pages of my book “The Content Pool” I advocate that to be truly effective we need to take a more holistic view. In fact, as I propose in the summary section, I believe that most organizations need a CCO – a Chief Content Officer.
Corporate knowledge is not all about flying space ships, building engines, erecting buildings, or designing software. Every scrap of content can be a valuable and essential part of the way your company operates. Even a simple email message may contain a critical piece of operational information, or a set of meeting notes can lead to a new way of doing things or create a new market opportunity. To be truly effective, that information needs to be shared in such a way that others can contribute, collaborate, and build on the idea.
Content of all sorts is vital to all aspects of a company’s life; without it none of the other four strategic activities — development, marketing, sales, and finance — could operate.
So why is content often overlooked as a strategic asset, I believe that, unlike the other core activities, it isn’t seen as a specialist activity. Because everyone does it, no one manages it, and no one is accountable.
This blog and the accompanying book are about how to change that.