What's In It For Me?

One of the biggest questions that people considering moving to a single-source environment have is: How do I get buy in? There are two sides to this question: How do I get buy in from management? And How do I get buy in from my team?

Understand the answer to this one little question, "What's in it for me?", and I guarantee you will have the keys to the kingdom!

  • Enthusiastic support from others for an initiative you are interested in.
  • Motivated help in executing a plan.
  • Attentive listeners when you are presenting an idea

The answer is not as simple as you may think. Sure you may know what the answer is for yourself, but if you hope to gain the support of others, you need to be clear on what the answer is from the most important perspective: Their perspective!

Some things can be driven from the bottom up and some from the top, but regardless of where it starts, moving to a single-sourcing environment requires buy-in by all those whose process is affected directly or indirectly. An entire body of literature is dedicated to change management.

Single-sourcing projects require new skill sets, new roles, and significant changes that forces productive and successful team members out of their comfort zones. It requires resources, dedication, and sponsorship from the enterprise as well.

This presentation will share advice, guidance, and lessons learned from a variety of customers in a range of industries who have made this transition. Some of the issues covered in these case studies include:

  • Keys to increasing adoption in writing teams
  • Lessons learned throughout the process
  • Strategies for rolling out new single-source authoring tools
  • Typical tasks and roles
  • Strategies to facilitate and encourage new skill acquisition
  • How to transition content authoring processes
  • Rolling out to distributed teams
  • Special issues with regard to outsourced writing groups
  • Redesigning processes to address business requirements for quality and traceability
  • Presenting to upper management

Learn how to get your ideas across to other people, no matter what project you're proposing or who you're proposing it to.

Dojo Expert

JLS_Portrait100x100Janice Summers, Single-Sourcing Solutions, specializes in helping people who’ve only ever used unstructured desktop publishing applications learn structured authoring. She’s been successfully transitioning Word users to XML authoring for the last 15 years and hasn’t lost anyone yet!

Watch the Video

Note: This presentation was given in the TC Dojo under the name "What's In It For Me?"

Recorded: November 2013

Transcript (Expand to View)

[00:00:01.710] - Janice Summers

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to TC Dojo. This morning's edition, we're going to talk about What's In It For Me? My name is Janice Summers for Single-Sourcing Solutions.

[00:00:14.670] - Janice Summers

So You have an idea. So the What's In It For Me? And it's a puzzling title, probably wondering why you signed up for this and hopefully you read the description. But it's really about how do you help yourself get your ideas across and actually get more enthusiastic support from people, more buy-in from others. And it all starts with the You have an idea. You're off on holiday. You have an epiphany. It's a brilliant idea. And you want to share it with others.

[00:00:47.760] - Janice Summers

And you want them to be just as excited about this idea as you are.

[00:00:53.880] - Janice Summers

So what's the first thing you do? Well. You go share it with others. You talk to your friends at work. You talk to your boss. You're pitching your idea. You're wanting to get this across. And you're thinking, wow, everything's going to be just as excited because this is a brilliant idea. Everybody's going to see the advantage in it.

[00:01:19.630] - Janice Summers

So you think you're going to get them all rallying around you and agreeing how brilliant it is. But instead, what you get is you get boredom. You get disinterest. You get people who are understanding what you're saying. And it actually in some situations, you get people who are hostile to the idea and a little aggressive about it and extremely resistant. Those are the more extreme situations. And you're left wondering, well, if this is brilliant idea, what the heck happened? You know, what did I do?

[00:01:54.890] - Janice Summers

Well. There's one key thing you forgot. You forgot to answer this burning question that's there for everybody, the What's In It For Me?

[00:02:08.260] - Janice Summers

Let's face it. We as human beings and we're all the same, and if you can examine your own actions, you'll see that you do the same thing. We really don't do anything without some kind of reward. There's got to be a reward in it. It's a base behavioral instinct that we're all born with and we develop over our life and we never go away from it. So it's a primal drive. It's not something you're going to change. It's something you just need to understand, you have and they have.

[00:02:43.120] - Janice Summers

The skill comes in learning how to tap into the answer of this question for other people. One more quick thing. So there's two different things. There's negative or there's positive reinforcements for any behavior. I know it's a lot of psychology talk. But there's either going to be a negative or a positive reward. So punishment is a form of reward, but it's a negative reward. Gifts, praise, accolades, money, financial gain — those are all things that are rewards as well.

[00:03:20.260] - Janice Summers

But those are positive rewards.

[00:03:23.140] - Janice Summers

So and I'm going to get a little bit more psychology on you here. And explain that a positive reward is much more reinforcing than a negative reward. If any of you have had Psychology 101 in college, you probably remember Pavlov's dog and Pavlov's conditioning. Positive reward with food. And oftentimes even when the food wasn't present, the dog would still behave in positive way. That take the action that we wanted him to take. He would salivate at the sound of a bell even when food wasn't present.

[00:04:02.590] - Janice Summers

But that's because he was conditioned for the positive reward. We'll do things. We'll go out of our way in hopes of getting that positive reward, even if it's inconsistently delivered.

[00:04:12.850] - Janice Summers

Negative is punishment, removal of privileges, spankings when you're a kid. These are not really good reinforcers because you always have to be there to enforce a negative reward. So we always look for positive. It's not like you're going to go punishing your co-workers or your boss if he doesn't get on your idea. I just wanted to give you a little bit more depth about psychology and the psychology of motivation.

[00:04:49.710] - Janice Summers

So whenever we take any kind of action, I don't care what it is — doing the dishes at home, riding your bicycle, getting the report time, whatever it is that you're involved. And there's always a risk and a reward that you've evaluated before you take an action. It's the same thing people are doing when you're talking with them and presenting an idea is they're thinking about what's in it for me? Because if I'm going to take an action, I know there's a risk, but I want to weigh that with the reward.

[00:05:20.940] - Janice Summers

If there's something in it for me that I'm going to be more interested, and this happens in such a split second that you don't even know it's happening. It's not like a conscious thing. Not always. It's, again, it's a primal drive. And it's something that we discern almost instantly at the beginning of a pitch. So we'll either the shut down, will resist, or will get on board.

[00:05:44.940] - Janice Summers

You want people who are going to get on board with you. You want them to share in the idea. You want them to be enthusiastic about it. You want them to support and move it forward and not be a resistance or a roadblock. You want them to be one of your champions.

[00:06:01.750] - Janice Summers

I love this quote from Sensei Funakoshi. He's the father of modern karate. It's really important. To win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the highest skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill. So I think this karate wisdom sums it all up what we were just talking about. It's you don't want to have to fight to get your point across. You don't want to have to argue a point in a negative way. You don't want to have to force an idea down people.

[00:06:42.270] - Janice Summers

I mean, if you're a manager, yeah, you can use the old two-by-four and force your employees into compliance, but you're going to get resistance, and it won't be real obvious to you. We have a wonderful way of sabotaging things if we're unhappy. Again, human nature.

[00:06:59.820] - Janice Summers

So the real skill is in getting support and buy-in, getting enthusiastic listeners without fighting the issue, without having to fight and arguing. Beat your fists.

[00:07:16.660] - Janice Summers

So the one thing you have to remember: whenever you're approaching someone with an idea is it's not about you. It really isn't about you. It's not even about your idea. It's about them. It's about the other person, because no one is more important than them. We all have that protection mechanism. Again, we all have that same primal drive. You may have this idea, but you need to set yourself aside and think about it from their perspective, because it is about that.

[00:07:53.590] - Janice Summers

So let's look at a hypothetical. And if you have questions or comments anywhere along the way — I probably should have said this earlier — feel free to interrupt. I'm happy to answer. So I think we're going to get through this in less than half an hour. But anyway, okay, so let's take a hypothetical situation. This is one we're probably all really common with. I can imagine everybody is if you either heard this or thought of this or has done this.

[00:08:23.170] - Janice Summers

But let's just take a hypothetical that really applies to technical communication. And it's going to be, hey, we're switching to DITA. Switching to DITA will allow us to maximize reuse.

[00:08:36.620] - Janice Summers

Maybe you were an employee and you were told to do this. So we all here probably understand DITA and what that means. We understand what the architecture is. We understand the term reuse. We should if we don't. We should. For instruction authoring, we definitely should understand what the term reuse is. And we understand what this whole statement applies. If you've made that transition into DITA and you're optimizing your reuse and you're in cross that bridge and in that valley of optimal authoring, then you understand what all this implies.

[00:09:18.320] - Janice Summers

We're in techcom now, so of course you understand that we should understand that. But, well, how do you think they're going to feel about that statement and marketing and sales? What about support and engineering and all the other cross organizations in your company. They don't speak the speak. To them DITA is just an acronym. They've got their own acronyms. That's your acronym.

[00:09:51.920] - Janice Summers

So how do you think these statements, really, probably going to get disinterest, confusion, not important, maybe resistance? Because maybe you're pitching your idea when other people are pitching their idea for a limited amount of fund resources that the company has. And maybe your idea is going to fall away because it's like, well, not important because they don't understand it.

[00:10:15.510] - Janice Summers

So now let's take this in change it up a little bit. And think in terms of what's in it for them. We're thinking about a sales and marketing organization. I just lump them in together. They are two distinct groups, but for these purposes I lump them in together, because they're driven on the same key objective. Sales is in it for bigger commissions, and marketing is in it for bigger sales numbers because that's how they get measured. So it's all about gaining customers.

[00:10:49.460] - Janice Summers

So the proposition for them, if you said that other, again, they don't really understand. But if you talk to them in terms that they're going to understand, like redesigning how you create the content to make it easier to rebrand. So rebranding, yes, it's term we understand, but it's definitely a term that's very relevant within marketing and sales. Say you're a company that's on an acquisition path. And your acquisition philosophy is that you rebrand and bring them into the corporate culture.

[00:11:20.480] - Janice Summers

So that time to rebrand is critical because sales wants to go out and sell this product, this new product that the company has added to their portfolio. But they're stuck until all of the content that's created for that product is branded the correct way from marketing. So what sales would see in this statement is, okay, shorter time to market. I can get out there and I can sell this stuff faster. I'm going to increase revenue for the company. It's going to make my boss happy. And oh yeah, maybe get a bigger commission, which is really important.

[00:11:55.820] - Janice Summers

That's how sales is compensated — bigger sales numbers.

[00:12:00.490] - Janice Summers

So this one is going to get their attention. They may ask more questions. They're going to be intrigued. At least you've positioned the statement in terms that they can see what's in it for them.

[00:12:13.080] - Janice Summers

So let's take technical support, same situation, right? Again, we had our same simple statement that we talk to techcom with, and they understand that. So now let's talk in terms of support.

[00:12:26.620] - Janice Summers

So for them, the customer is getting the most accurate information on their own so they can go and request information without having a support call in first. You've really helped technical support. And you've helped the customers because there's a higher degree of satisfaction. A lot of people these days, they don't have the patience to be on the phone. They really just want that, web interaction, and they want to go get exactly what it is they want when they want it. And that's going to be their first step because we've all been through this situation when we've been on hold for support forever and ever.

[00:13:06.180] - Janice Summers

And you don't want to do that. You want to go and get the information you need, try and solve your problem on your own before you call support.

[00:13:14.300] - Janice Summers

So if I can get what I need, I'm going to be happier as a customer. If I'm in support of my customers to get what they need, then I'm not going to get that customer saying, you're documentation's confusing. I can't find what I want. So it makes my job as a support person so much easier. So chances are if you can tell me that my customers are going to be, can get their information without having to come through me first, this is going to be important for me.

[00:13:41.660] - Janice Summers

Because I don't have to feel all those complaints.

[00:13:45.290] - Janice Summers

Now, let's talk in terms of executive. So if you started out this idea correctly, you've gone to your local group. You've gone inside your group and everyone understands it and everyone's on board. You've pitched it across to other teams that are also affected by what you do. And if you don't think they are, they are. Everybody's affected by content.

[00:14:12.070] - Janice Summers

Now it's time where, okay, it's gotten enough support. You've rallied support. People are behind your idea. You've done it the right way. You've talked to them in terms of what's in it for them so they understand. Now, you've got to go to the executives. You speak a whole another language. So I'm going to let you in on a little business secret. The number one objective for any executive in any company — I don't care where you are — is to increase shareholder wealth.

[00:14:41.860] - Janice Summers

That is to make the company profitable, to keep it profitable. That's survival.

[00:14:48.730] - Janice Summers

So when you're talking to the executive team, when they say what's in it f or me, they're very conscience of profit. They have to be. That's what they're in the position to do. So when you proposed to them that you're going to spend money, which it does, any transition, you're going to have some upfront capital. So you're going to have to propose it in a way that is going to make sense to them, that they understand the business reason for it, and not in the terms of your DITA and reuse buzzwords, because at the executive level, they don't.

[00:15:27.660] - Janice Summers

That's too granular for them.

[00:15:31.050] - Janice Summers

But what they do understand is maximizing efficiencies. They also understand the importance of the return on an investment. Because, again, you're going to have investment dollars when you're making a change. They understand that they need to get the return on this investment. The shorter the return, the better the investment. So if you can tell them, if you spend this money, this time and money, because time is money for them, the return on this investment is fully recovered in three years.

[00:16:05.670] - Janice Summers

That's a very rapid turn.

[00:16:08.100] - Janice Summers

Now, you're going to have to do analytics to support this, which is not a bad exercise because it helps you to really understand the monetary reasons why you would want to switch to reuse, which is always a good argument to have, good knowledge to have.

[00:16:26.930] - Janice Summers

Okay. So this rule also applies to your personal life. It applies to any aspect. If you have children, try it out on them. If you have children, you've probably tried this already. And you understand that if they see reward, it's all the old allowance trick. If they see a reward, they're going to do it.

[00:16:47.350] - Janice Summers

And if you change how you're presenting things and change how you're thinking about things into what's in it for somebody else. I get what's in it for me. I want to go to DITA. I like reuse. It's going to make my life easier. DITA is a great structure and I totally understand the topic authoring. So I get it for me and I understand what's in it for me and techcom and how much easier it's going to make my life. Yeah, I'm going to have to go through work, but it's going to make things much easier.

[00:17:19.900] - Janice Summers

If you take it out of there and understand if I'm a marketing person or I'm a salesperson or I'm an engineer, why is this important to me? Oftentimes even with engineering, just to get the point across about why content is important to them. It's a struggle. I came from engineering so I understand it's oftentimes, they make the mistake of thinking. It's just words on paper. But when you really start to peel away, you see the complexity of content and the importance of it, of course.

[00:17:53.270] - Janice Summers

So if you switch these phrasing and switch how we talk in terms that they understand what's in it for them before we really get down the path, I mean, they understand in our first statement, then you're going to get people that are motivated to help you, or at least point you to people who would be the right champion. And you're going to get attention.

[00:18:14.780] - Janice Summers

And there may be people that are going to resist. You're always going to get this, but there's a reason they're resisting. It could be any number of reasons. You can find out if you need their support, and it's important to have their support, then you do need to find out why their resistive. If you don't need their support, then you can just go ahead and move on and know that they're not your customer. It's okay. You need to find the people who are going to support the idea and who are important to the project to support the idea.

[00:18:49.360] - Janice Summers

So one more note on that resistance. Oftentimes there are people that may be resistant in your own group. You're talking to your buddy, hey, I went to this conference, learned about DITA, learned about reuse. I think this would be really great for our content. Well, your buddy, maybe they didn't go or maybe they did go. Their thoughts are completely different. Maybe they came back with a lot of resistive... resistance, sorry.

[00:19:20.120] - Janice Summers

If you really explore it in non-prickly way, try and get them to share why they don't think it's a good idea. Don't attack when someone feels attacked, but listen to them. Oftentimes you're going to find that there's some fear in there — unknown, maybe they weren't clear, they didn't get it. And it's okay. There's nothing wrong with that because we don't always get it the first time. And not everybody is as good at explaining things. Sometimes they assume, may go to a presentation than somebody is using phrasing, that they assume you understand.

[00:19:58.320] - Janice Summers

And if this person didn't understand it, then they won't get the same value that you did. So try and explain things in a way that they'll understand what's in it for them so it won't be so threatening.

[00:20:11.650] - Janice Summers

So this is how you gain enthusiastic support for any idea you might have in your personal life or in your business life. It really does work. So do we have... I don't know if we have any questions. I think everybody's been so quiet.

[00:20:27.850] - Liz Fraley

We don't have any questions.

[00:20:29.560] - Janice Summers

That's okay. That's okay. They're stunned.

[00:20:32.510] - Liz Fraley

While they write up their questions, why don't you tell us what's coming up?

[00:20:36.310] - Janice Summers

Okay, okay. I will go ahead and do that. So if you have questions after this, feel free to contact me. There's my email address janice.summers@single-sourcing.com. I'm happy to help you.

[00:20:47.770] - Janice Summers

Now, I'm going to get in trouble because I actually didn't do my slides correct. But before I get off of this slide, I want to remind you, it's really important for the TC Dojo. This, really, is community-driven. The topics are community-driven. Your votes are extremely important. So I ask that you take a time. Jot this down on a piece of paper right now, this URL. Take the time, go over there, vote on sessions you want to hear about. These TC Dojo and Arbortext Edition Dojos are designed for you.

[00:21:22.610] - Janice Summers

So we want to hear from you what's important for you to learn about, to talk about. You actually, really, can type in questions and we, really, will answer them. This is designed to be for you and about you.

[00:21:38.020] - Janice Summers

Okay, so now I'm going to go over here. I think I've cued this up correctly, and yes, I did. Why did it not come up?

[00:21:48.210] - Janice Summers

Here it is. Okay. So if we're looking at what's next and this is over on the Single-Sourcing Solutions website, just look at TC Dojo. It's right here. And let's see what's coming up next. So if we advance forward, we'll see we're in the month of November. So we just talked about what's in it for me. The Master session, this one is coming up on Monday, November 18th. So we'll see the date here.

[00:22:20.990] - Janice Summers

In Arbortext in Styler, we're going to be covering headers and footers. So easy, so fun. I don't know if you've had a chance. If you're on Arbortext, and all those are really a lot of fun. One quick note about the recordings for the TC Dojo Open Session, which is what we're in right now. These will be made public. We'll put these recordings up so that you can replay them at your leisure.

[00:22:49.370] - Janice Summers

The Master's Series is a special member-only series and these are not recorded. It is a forum discussion, a lot of fun, lots of different topics that are covered in here and a lot of learning concentrated in that one hour.

[00:23:06.290] - Janice Summers

The Arbortext Edition, these are... If you don't attend it, you don't get to see it unless you're a member of the Single-Sourcing Solutions wiki. So if you want information about that, you can send me an email.

[00:23:23.080] - Janice Summers

All right. So we ended a little bit early. I see that there still are no questions and that's okay. Hopefully you all received what was in it for you for this web session. I just hoped to impart at least a little pearl of wisdom to your way. Try it out. I hope it works. Let me know. All right.

[00:23:44.300] - Liz Fraley

Well, don't forget. In December, our next TC Dojo Open Session, if you scroll up a little, is all about indexing.

[00:23:52.000] - Janice Summers

Yes, that's right. I forgot about that. It's already up here.

[00:23:55.000] - Liz Fraley

We've got a professional indexer who's going to come and talk about how you do it, why you do it, and what you need to know to do really good indexing. And since that topic, along with metadata and categorization, seems to be the top request, we found a real index indexers at the national level, professionally, to come and talk to us. It's going to be really fun.

[00:24:17.080] - Janice Summers

Yeah, that one's going to be a really a don't-miss session. Absolutely. So okay. Great. No questions. Well, thanks and hope to see you again next time.

View the Slides

Presented at

  • TC Dojo 2013
  • LavaCon 2012
  • STC San Francisco Chapter 2012

Key Concepts:

make your business case

Filed under:

Lavacon, STC, TC Dojo, Webinars

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