“I was just thinking about the site,” I said to Kate during our weekly meeting in Nutley, NJ. “I wish we could feature our different types of content in a better way.”
“Yeah. It would be cool if we could break out the interviews from the columns from the webinars in a way that’s easy for readers to recognize,” she said.
The more we talked about it, the more we realized that doing much with our current WordPress template would be tough. All we currently had was the ability to “pin” one item to the top of our home page so it wouldn’t scroll down as other items were posted. That wasn’t going to get us near our new vision.
“You see,” I said, reviewing other sites. “Most sites have a static front page with boxes of content, but we have a blogroll type design where nothing except the items in the sidebar are stationary.”
“Can we redesign the site?” Kate asked. “It’s been over seven years.”
“I think we can redesign the site,” I said, getting excited by the idea. “The existing site is basically a WordPress template, so I don’t see why we can’t just select a new one. I’ll reach out to Doug (our WordPress guy), tell him what we’re thinking and see how he suggests moving forward.”
And with that, we were on our way. But before reaching out to Doug, I wanted to have a clear idea of what we wanted, so I asked Kate and Nancy to surf some sites, find things they liked and send me the examples. After collecting them, we discussed the results so I’d truly understand what they were thinking. I then took great pains to turn this vision into a comprehensive email to Doug (a local guy turned world-traveling digital nomad), replete with screen shots and mock ups of what we were looking for.
At our next team meeting, after I’d fired off the information to Doug; Kate, Nancy and I couldn’t help but joke about how relatively rapid the whole process — from idea to its commencement — had been. The three of us have all worked together before, and so had some common experiences around trying to get new initiatives off the ground.
Reminiscing about some of those frustrating times, I recalled being continually met with the phrases, “I fear … ” or “I’m afraid … ” whenever a new idea was proffered. And of course, there was that classic innovation killer of all time, “Let’s revisit this at the next meeting … ”
Now, part of this “fear” has a practical side — one always wants to consider possible negative outcomes of any new initiative. But if fear is all you feel when confronted with the idea of doing something new, you never do anything but that which you’ve always done. And those who find their ideas continually met with trepidation and indecision cease to voice any new ideas at all. I mean, if we try it, perhaps that which we’ve feared won’t come to fruition and, if it does, we will still (I presume) be sentient beings, fully capable of reacting to and countering any new unfortunate circumstances.
I don’t expect to have our new site launched tomorrow, and I don’t expect Doug’s first interpretation of our vision to be 100 percent right on, but I do expect that the play dough, if you will, which had once been in the can, will now have some definite shape, a shape we can then have Doug expand here and winnow there.
If you want to get to the finish line of any vision, you have to start the darn race. The worst thing you can do to your organization, your team, and yourself is to always remain standing at the starting line, frozen in fear of all that might go wrong along the way.