Beyond Digital Transformation: Empowering Your Staff Through Product Thinking
“Any organization that designs a system…will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.” This old idea in computer science too often seems inevitable, as content management systems slow us down, rather than support us, and our products end up reflecting the status quo. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We’ve seen how incremental CMS changes can put newsrooms and nonprofits alike on a path toward empowering folks, breaking down assumptions, and better representing communities. As we create products used by entire organizations, we have a unique opportunity to build systems that reinforce positive shifts. Through learning sessions with hundreds of staffers, we’ve seen a reversal of that old idea—going from digital transformation to real organizational change.
In this Alley Session, we’ll share tools that have helped publishers make these moves, and small product updates you can make now to fuel big change. We’ll talk with Erin Geismar, Managing Editor of Digital Production for New York Post, and Margaret Schneider, Director of Editorial Projects at Alley, to learn how product thinking and training sessions combine to bring a whole staff together. You’ll gain ideas for your own products—and find out why training and user testing are among your most powerful tools to ensure the success of a digital transformation.
Erin Geismar has often found herself bridging a gap between various departments in a newsroom -- whether that's digital to print, product to editorial, or now as a Managing Editor for digital at the New York Post, helping to unify all departments in the common goal of producing a killer website. In her current role, Erin manages a team of digital producers and editors responsible for optimizing the hundreds of pieces of content the Post publishes daily. She also puts a large focus on the tools needed to do that, the analytics that inform the work, and the user experience.
Margaret Schneider has worked in or adjacent to newsrooms her entire career, serving as a managing editor in city and regional publications, editing books and alt-weeklies, and launching several startup publications. At Alley, she created and manages the CMS training program and has personally trained hundreds of folks on editorial teams across the U.S., as well as spoken about CMS challenges and opportunities. She’s passionate about making the lives of writers and editors better, and specifically interested in ways folks in product can build equity, inclusion, and belonging into the systems we create.
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