Your deliverables were designed for your project’s clients—the people who asked for the results—along with the people you report to. There are also the ultimate beneficiaries of your work: customers, users, or other stakeholders that your client serves. You considered the value for them when assessing your project scorecard.
But your project offers much more than the formal products you deliver to your clients or bosses, and when these other learnings are included a far broader potential audience emerges.
Consider an even wider set of audiences to reach than those listed above. These are all the people who could benefit from learning of your work, both the content and the process.
(1) Start by Identifying Who May Be Interested in Your Learning
Consider colleagues within your organization, collaborators in related projects, industry groups, social network communities, your profession.
(2) Make a List of These Audiences
Your list of potential target groups may evolve as you consider your project though this lens. Allow for a little iteration and refinement in this process if you have the time do so.
(3) Home In on the Most Relevant Audiences
Think back on your project output, impact, and practices—what areas were most successful, or what pitfalls emerged that could have been avoided. Who else could most benefit from learning about what you did? Prioritize those audiences on the list that have the most to gain from your insights.
(4) Identify the Information Most Likely to Be Useful to Others
You’ve done the hard work of extracting the most valuable learning from all aspects of your work. Now the task is to mine a few of the best nuggets to share more widely. To pinpoint what to share, look at the insights you’ve pulled out through the lens of the needs and interests of your target audiences.
(5) Keep an Open Mind about What to Share
In considering candidate ideas and materials to share, look for what will appeal to many. In general, the most useful products of your work include:
- What you have learned about the world (the market, for example), your organization, or the product
- New tools, methods, approaches, or practices that you used in your team to good effect
(6) Prioritize What to Share from Among Candidate Ideas and Materials
Three considerations may help screen options:
A. Identify what products would be most helpful to others. Usually, this means looking at the potential for your work to lead others to make different decisions or to change their behaviors.
- Given that goal, what information should you share to enable them to act differently?
- How much detail will they need, and how persuasive will the materials need to be?
- For each type of audience, note your ideas for the format and content that they would find most useful and determine how you will distribute these products.
B. As you select what’s appropriate to share, think through the implications of making the information public. What are potential downsides?
- You may need to exclude proprietary client information where sharing could be restricted.
- It may be important to build appropriate buy-in from your boss, the client, and your team regarding your plan to share findings.
- Give credit where credit is due by crediting team members as appropriate, and respect privacy, reputation, and other aspects of disclosure as needed.
C. Make a realistic estimation of how much work you will need to invest in the existing materials to make them shareable. It’s fine to scale back your ideas. Sharing something small, but doing it well, is better than a grand but poorly planned approach.
Design for Sharing
Once you’ve targeted the most important things to share, there’s just one more step: designing how to present your work and learning to others.
Since you’ve already considered potential audiences for your project insights, you know that the results of your project likely have implications for the rest of your department and organization and perhaps for others—members of your profession, other communities in which you participate, and maybe even the general public.
- Within your organization is an obvious place to start, but depending on your situation, you may target both internal and external audiences, select only one of these, or devise a two-part strategy to share internally first and then syndicate selected insights more widely.
- Make sure to explore the internal supports at your disposal and to understand how your organization’s culture and structure enable or hinder information sharing. Some organizations have internal sharing systems built into their structure; others are notoriously compartmentalized. How can you work within your current context?
- If you have the opportunity to begin with just one step, we suggest you start small. Identify one other team for whom your work has relevancy and create a mechanism to share some specific and practical information. Consider hosting a team briefing or archiving your materials systematically and developing a quick materials guide for the other team.
- When you can, go beyond your bottom-line conclusions. Aim to share a varied selection of the products of your work, including information on process, methods, and timeline. Consider how to make accessible the analysis behind the results, the content, and the tools, not just the conclusions, of your project.
Think creatively about how to efficiently accomplish two things.
For internal audiences, or more widely if your industry embraces open-source methods, provide access to a complete and organized set of your work products to others.
For the highlights of your learning, share and syndicate selected results of your work by getting the story out in creative and compelling ways that encourage and enable behavior change.
Recognizing that both aspects of sharing may be important can help you to choose the most impactful strategy.