When you begin a blog or put your presence out there on the internet there are many considerations that sprout. I begin to think about how the world has become populated with billions of internet presences and personas. People can have many multiple personas and create and manage them as frivolously or as tightly as one can imagine. How can I craft something that will resonate for years to come? How can I stay true to myself without compromising my future interactions? How will this blog relate to other digital and physical representations of myself? The thoughts spiral and grow exponentially and it is easy to become overwhelmed.
The important thing to remember is to make your vision clear. State your mission from the beginning and be careful of scope creep. As my soul twin and friend Rachel continually reminds me, “scope creep kills projects.” Scope creep occurs when you set the perimeters of a project and slowly you allow just a little bit more in and then a little bit more. Before you know it the entire project can find itself derailed and motivation becomes an endangered species.
In business school you get a quick half a chapter of a text book that explains mission and vision statements. You always read through it quickly have a two minute discussion in class and promptly toss it out of your mind. I remember seeing countless engraved plaques with delicate calligraphy announcing the mission or vision of this university or that organization. I never paid any attention to them. I never saw what they stood for or why they were needed. I suppose I assumed that all these groups and institutions simply knew what they were doing. Now that I sit here finally considering the awesome managerial task of creating something out of nothing, the crucial role of missions and visions is finally dawning on me.
That is why I will be crafting my vision and mission for this blog in the next few days. I plan to take it slowly and choose my words carefully so that I don’t box myself in and at the same time keep my focus. I know this is difficult to accomplish but at least I hope to begin with the simplest, clearest, and best intentions possible.
As I begin this blog I have been having quite a few thoughts about strategy and metaphors as tools for creating self maintaining systems. I have been reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. Its a great clearly written book about how to develop the stickiness of ideas. Stickiness, a concept originated by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, is the attribute that certain ideas or stories have that allows them to stick in people’s minds. There is an interesting passage in the book about Southwest Airlines, which had been the basis of many a case study back in business school. Southwest has created a culture where the first question any employee asks themselves is “will this make us THE low-cost airline?” and the second one is “will this improve customer service?” Through this extended metaphor Southwest has created self maintaining system. Employees know what behaviors and actions are appropriate and what is not correct in the Southwest image. I think there is a brilliant lesson in this case and I think it applies directly to my concerns about creating an online presence. If I carefully craft my vision and mission then I will be able to translate this into an extended metaphor which will aid me in making decisions that are consistent and cohesive.