Strategy as a Solution
The world of digital can be confusing and the answers difficult to find. Paralyzing questions keep some from getting started. Questions like: I need a website. Where do I start? What CMS would serve us best? What is a CMS? Where do I host? What are my main objectives? How do I tell my story through design and messaging? How will my website function for my team? How do I structure my content? I know what I want but have no idea how to get there. It’s a lot. Right? We wanted to counter this paralysis with a solution. The solution is our Wayfinding Workshop but the path to that conclusion wasn’t linear.
Every company has its unique approach to applying strategy as a solution. The word strategy is often thrown around and sometimes overused. We, too, use it frequently but we wanted to create something that was not only strategic but also tangible. Conceptualizing the roadmap and the solution in one stop felt key. This kind of challenge is one of my favorite components of my job because I’ve seen what happens when it’s done and done well.
The way we structure our Wayfinding Workshops now is a more mature version of our old concept “Strategy from Simplicity.” With the prior concept, we were still doing “discovery” as the first phase of a project, but even that felt too late. Getting to the core strategy – not just discovery – was critical to start design and development. Having strategy prior would give us a sturdier foundation to write a proposal for that work and that proposal would have higher confidence. This yields higher client trust because it promises delivery instead of theories.
Solution: Wayfinding Workshops
Our client experiences resulted in the creation of our popular Wayfinding Workshops. The idea came to us when we were at the Digital Project Management summit in 2019. (more on the 2020 DPM Summit here!) At this time, our entire Accounts process was evolving and we had started to adapt a team anchor in the Agile Manifesto. Everything we did was checked against the values of the Manifesto. Our process of discovery didn’t check out. It was the opposite of the value of “customer collaboration over contract negotiation”. We needed that collaboration first and so we did it” We started selling Wayfinding Workshops before we sold projects. Spoiler alert: It worked.
While discovery is still core to the process, the key difference is that the definition of success is the delivery of a tangible plan: breaking through the noise to understand and roadmap how to get to where you want to go. That plan is structured as a standalone deliverable so there’s no commitment beyond the Wayfinding Workshop itself. While we hope to earn clients’ trust to continue our work through the design and development phases, it’s important that the document stand on its own such that it could be taken to any qualified design and development team and provide enough guidance for them to get started right away.
Wayfinding Workshops start with a focus on a problem, but quickly evolve into a collaboration. We think beyond the scope of the project to how we can create a digital strategy that addresses both the short term goals but also is aligned with the goals of the entire organization.
It may seem simple enough, but imagine all of the possible stakeholders who really care about how their company’s digital presence evolves: Sales, marketing, IT, supply chain and vendor inventory, shipping, accounting, fundraising, event planning, and more. We’ve found it’s often a significant number of stakeholders who are invested in their organization’s website because it’s a tool used by most. Including all those voices creates a strategy that is aligned with every department and has buy-in from all. This level of stakeholder engagement clarifies for everyone the direction of digital and allows each person to feel heard and empowered in the website initiative. That’s key to success.
Pre –and post (SO CLOSE) – COVID-19, our Wayfinding Workshop is typically an in-person event where our team comes to you, to meet you in your office and city and see how your business and teams function. It’s imperative we understand your business if we’re going to craft a roadmap for your online presence. Nobody knows your business better than you, and we want to see it in action. We avoid the one-size-fits-all template. We’re looking for a much more personal connection to better understand your wants, needs and pain points before we architect a way out.
Our Process in Action
Given our desire to get to the heart of our clients’ business operations, we set up two half-day sessions where we structure the agenda by day. Day One is all about asking the tough questions. It’s where we dig into all the issues with your current digital experience and your goals for your new one. On Day One, Culture Foundry acts as a sponge. I warn clients that this day can be draining – it’s like opening up all the wounds and going through all the issues without much focus on solutions. We don’t leave you in that state for long. That’s where the magic of Day Two comes in. After Day One, our Culture Foundry team meets up at night to revise the hypothesis we came into the day with, evolving our action plan based on what we learned on Day One.
On Day Two, we present that hypothesis and work collaboratively with the team to establish a unified strategy and prioritized digital roadmap that is implementation-ready, optimized for technical efficiency, and designed to chart the course to an exceptional and consistent user experience. Sounds magical, right? It is! Day Two of any Wayfinding Workshop feels like the day when the clarity comes through and a plan is made. It’s the day that makes the drain of Day One feel worthwhile. It’s also the day that we always celebrate by taking our client out for dinner after two days of strategic work. Plus, developing trust and collaborative relationships are core to our success – and getting to know you is a highlight of each trip for me.
The Wayfinding Workshop does not end there. Once Culture Foundry gets home, we pull together a roadmap stating what we heard, our proposal to deliver on it, a list of deliverables, and any other notes from the sessions. This roadmap is an action plan that stands on its own. We want clients to take that roadmap and shop it around if they’d like (yes, I’m encouraging you to see if it stands up with other agencies – we’re that confident in what we do). It’s your tool of empowerment and this is your site. You deserve digital autonomy, knowledge about your business and the respect of a partner to enable that in you. Our goal is, of course, that we’ll be lucky enough to build your site, but we hope to earn that opportunity in this flat-fee Wayfinding Workshop.
Your roadmap serves as an action plan so once a contract is signed, we’re ready to get to work on your website. There’s no ramp up time. All of the crucial discovery investment has been made – and that’s when the real fun begins. If you’re interested in learning more about our Wayfinding Workshops, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
Culture Foundry is a digital experience agency that helps our clients elevate their impact with beautiful technology. We provide the expertise and insight at every layer that makes a great digital experience for websites and applications possible. If you're committed to elevating your digital experience, contact us and we'd be happy to schedule a chat to see if we're a fit.
(Psst! We also happen to be a great place to work.)