The Real Challenge: Getting There from Here
For anyone who’s wandering around in the DAM world, looking to get a foothold on their journey toward a successful implementation and hoping to avoid pitfalls along the way, two questions inevitably come up.
First, where do I begin? And second, how do I get there from here?
There’s no one answer, of course. But when you go to DAM conferences, one of the more common refrains you’ll hear is “use the DAM maturity model,” referring to a well-known maturity model that’s often recommended across the DAM community.
Which is pretty good advice. But, is it the most applicable advice?
A maturity model can certainly help you take stock and get grounded. And a maturity model can also help you monitor progress as your DAM expands throughout your organization. The issue, however, is that traditional maturity models are not particularly well suited for those two key questions – getting started, and getting there from here.
Why? Because traditional maturity models are diagnostic tools. But, what we really need are prescriptive tools.
What’s the difference? Diagnostic tools measure you here. Prescriptive tools take you there.
And getting “there” – achieving very specific outcomes for very specific audiences – is the name of the game for anyone embarking on a DAM transformational journey.
The Traditional Approach: Issues & Limitations
To understand why a prescriptive approach will be more suitable to address the two questions noted earlier, let’s talk about traditional maturity models for a moment: what are they, and what are they for?
Well, maturity models typically begin by laying out an array of capabilities that are relevant in a particular space. For example, the DAM maturity model pictured above identifies 15 dimensions of capability across 4 categories, namely People, Information, Systems and Process.
Next, the Model defines levels of maturity, from least mature being Ad Hoc, on the left, through the most mature, Optimal, on the right.
And finally, the Model provides specific definitions of DAM maturity for each combination of capability and level, the idea being to help organizations pinpoint their current level of proficiency in each dimension, and to provide a scale for measuring improvement over time.
Now, to be fair, maturity models are undeniably helpful tools, and they have valuable applications in large organizations. But, if you think about it, maturity models are really not that well suited for driving toward DAM success, for a number of reasons:
- Maturity models are largely assessment-oriented as opposed to being instructional, meaning, they measure proficiency rather than guide toward goals and destinations.
- Maturity models are somewhat reactive, focused on identifying current deficiencies, rather than being proactive in spelling out the ingredients needed to generate specific future success.
- Maturity models are capability-oriented, in that they focus on areas, and gradations, of proficiency, as opposed to being outcome-oriented, and focusing instead on key levers to drive goals, and being threshold-centric with respect to key factors for success.
- DAM maturity models (in particular) tend to be context-agnostic, meaning they are written in the context of a general DAM audience, as opposed to being context-specific, and therefore targeted to specific DAM audiences.
In short, for those of us who are primarily interested in driving step by step toward DAM success, maybe a different approach will help.
A Different Approach: a Deliberate Focus on Outcomes
So what should we do? Maybe a story will help.
Several years ago I interviewed at Alvarez & Marsal, one of the preeminent consulting firms specializing in turnaround management and performance improvement. I met with a senior partner there, who looked at my resume, pointed to one of the initiatives on it, and said:
“I want to know what you did.”
So I proceeded to tell him about that project, how it was structured, and what my role was. He listened for a while, and said once again, “I want to know what you did.”
So, I told him even more detail about the project, specifics about complex analyses I conducted, challenges I encountered along the way, until he stopped me yet again and said: “You’re not hearing me: I want to know what you did.”
So I paused for a moment, until I realized what was happening, and I replied: “You don’t want to know what I did, do you? You want to know the impact of what I did, right?”
And from that moment forward we had a great conversation. I even got an offer.
But more importantly, that day I got a lesson, which is this: sometimes it’s not about how well you do something, or how proficient you are in doing it. It’s actually about the impact, the result – it’s about the outcome.
And I’ll even go a step further: in many cases the outcome will determine what you need to do, it will even determine how well you need to do it – meaning, the level at which you will need to deliver. Because anything less than that will probably fail.
So when we embark on a DAM transformational journey, let’s take that lesson with us: let’s apply an outcome-oriented approach to building DAM success.
This idea of being outcome-oriented was exactly what led me to formulate a different model for building DAM success – basically, a different DAM maturity model or framework.
And here’s the good news: this new outcome-oriented approach is by definition prescriptive in nature – it helps us understand where to begin, and how to get there from here.
“DAM Perspectives” is a series of posts that came from the work we did to develop a new DAM maturity framework. So, as a next step, we invite you to check out some of the other posts in this series:
- DAM Perspectives (Part 1): The Need for a New Approach
- DAM Perspectives (Part 2): The Two Key Outcomes
- DAM Perspectives (Part 3): The Target Audiences
- DAM Perspectives (Part 4): Building the Foundation
- DAM Perspectives (Part 5): Building the Solution
- DAM Perspectives (Part 6): Building Conformity