There are a lot of stereotypes about non-profit clients. Some seem well-deserved and some not so much. Time does seem to move slower in those environments, and decision making can be a painfully slow process. I had an experience with one .org a few weeks ago that really surprised me.
We were going over some plans to add some improvements to their site architecture when the subject of timeline came up as it always does. The client’s response was to proceed in a timely fashion, but they weren’t going to announce anything until it was basically ready to go.
I agreed with the strategy, but was curious as to how they arrived at that. One of their content producers explained that in discussions about all of the org sites it had come up that the idea of launch dates and announcements were “yesterday’s old thinking.” Putting a date to things and launching in editions was a relic of publication, you should just continually roll out new things as they arrive.
I was shocked. It’s one thing to get a single person or team on board with this, but to get leadership buy-in at a large dusty old non-profit is really amazing.
Granted they aren’t whipping up widgets for Facebook or Twitter. They have to approach it a little skewed from a truly iterative approach – but you have to applaud the effort.
Technology deals in absolutes. It’s impossible to truly innovate on a project that has an absolute date attached with foggy requirements. A hard date demands throwing some parameters around the job when the clock is running. It’s all too easy to fall into a checklist of features and goals when nothing is defined when the only thing you have to run on is the calendar.
There’s always phase 2…