I’m a planner and I don’t like it when things don’t go “according to plan”.
Several years ago, I was leading a mission trip at an orphanage in Guatemala. One of the days we had to plan afternoon activities for the kids. We had everything set. Jumpropes. Hula hoops. Soccer balls.
When the activities started, nothing went according to my plan. We ended up playing some sort of mix of dodgeball and “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck”. The kids had their own plan.
At first, I was upset that we had spent time planning and getting materials ready and we weren’t using any of them. Then I looked at the smiles on the faces of the kids and learned an important lesson. Some things can go better than planned, even if it’s not the original plan.
I was reminded of this story yesterday after launching a client communication I had been planning for weeks. We created a video, web page and an email explaining things. The whole team was part of putting different elements together and November 27 was the launch date.
Guess what? A few things didn’t go according to plan.
The email links didn’t work for a number of people, even though we tested them many times. That’s technology, and I can live with that. Most importantly, we didn’t communicate a key part of our message.
A Little Background
We’ve created thousands of videos and our way of storing large amounts of data isn’t sustainable. We’ve also saved pretty much every piece of raw video we’ve captured over the last four years, even though we’re only obligated to keep files three months after project completion. We are now transitioning to a new video server, so this is the time for us to get things cleaned up. Deleting the files doesn’t seem like the right thing to do without consulting our clients. This communication gave them a few options. They could either take their raw footage and store it themselves, continue to have us store it, or give us permission to delete it.
We focused more on the technical part of the change rather than explaining why it’s important.
Many clients thought they were “good” because they had already downloaded their final videos. We failed to explain why they may want to keep or delete their raw video and project files. We were too close to the message and didn’t think of this perspective through the eyes of a client. It’s not an easy concept to grasp for people not in the video world.
Finding an Analogy
Pretend you are writing a book. You’ve conducted interviews, collected photographs and typed everything into a Word document before sending it to the publisher. The book is published and everyone is happy. Think of that printed book like a master video file – it’s the final product after many hours of work and it’s impossible to make changes.
You’ve found new research or images to add to your next round of printing. If you only have a physical copy of the published book, but not the Word document, making changes isn’t an option. The same is true with final video files; there’s not a great way to edit them.
We’re asked to update several videos each year. For example, after a teacher or principal leaves a school or a logo change needs to be made. This is possible only because we have saved the raw video and project files.
I believe part of our role is to educate our clients and we failed to do this in our first round of communications. It’s important to explain not only the what, but the why.
We have updated our website and will reach out again to our clients to educate and remind them about the upcoming change. We hope this helps our clients better understand their decisions to keep or delete their raw video files.
Many things in business and life don’t always go according to plan. As a company I want us to be humble enough to admit when things don’t go according to plan and embrace the opportunity to make things even better than originally thought.