As I’m packing up the last of our personal belongings while my family and I wait to get into our new house, it struck me that to move from stasis, you just need to be able to do something.
At work, our team once had no skills or capability to produce media. For less than $100, we were able to produce video and audio. We’ve taken that train as far as it goes, and leaders grew discontent with the quality of the audio and video we could produce. Still, we kept doing it. Why? Because they didn’t care enough to want to pay for something better.
I’ve spent the better part of two days re-evaluating the tools we have and what capabilities they provide for our team, in terms of media production. When we began building E-Learning content ourselves, there was no budget and no appreciation for media, so everything had to be guerilla-style.
What is guerilla-style multimedia? It’s multimedia production on the cheap. I selected a small, $40 FlexMic (from MacMice) that was a USB condenser microphone, which provides better audio quality than the unpowered microphones that plug into your Audio-In port on your computer. We put a pop-screen together out of a coat hanger and panty hose (I read that one online a few years back). For video, I picked up a Flip Camera (which ended up getting adopted throughout the organization where people wanted to do video).
When we had no media capability and no business case to make, this gave us a set of tools which enabled only so much. I’m now proud to say that our leadership is demanding better quality audio and better quality video, and that after two years we’re now easily making the business case it will take to significantly advance our ability to produce such multimedia in-house.
Sometimes to please people, you have to make them aware of the pain their own lack of investment causes. You must withstand the countless retakes someone will make you do before a leader realizes that it’s the quality of the tools you’re using that prevents desired results. You must be ready with a plan to improve (and you must deliver on that plan).
Many organizations tend to value the diving catch; they should be valuing the people who prevent the need for diving catches but it’s largely not in our nature. Designers, by definition of wanting to design the “right” experiences, tend to fight this head-on. As a disruptive practice, I advise leveraging this cultural moray. Do the best job you can with the tools you have and continue to work on the plan to level up. That way when the idea to improve becomes a leader’s idea, you have a solid plan to help that leader execute flawlessly. You can make the diving catch.