Are we making a difference?
To be honest, the last few weeks I’ve started wondering if what we do on Bethel’s website really makes a difference. I’ve participated in a series of meetings with people questioning our solutions, we’re still migrating content to our new site, and the Web Services team seems to be drowning under a wave of tasks and projects. We leave each day with more to do than time will allow us to accomplish.
So how do you know if you’re making a difference? As I thought about this question, it occurred to me that many of us probably measure our impact in the wrong way.
- Making everyone happy: The tendency is to think that if you’ve made everyone happy then you’ve made a difference, but often the opposite is actually true. People don’t like change. If you make everyone happy, odds are good you haven’t changed enough.
- Doing things fast: We live in a culture of instant gratification and we’re people who expect instant results. But things that are good don’t happen quickly and things that happen quickly often aren’t good. Make sure you don’t get tricked into thinking the rate of production is more important than the product itself.
- Getting noticed: It’s nice to be noticed, but I learned from my time in IT that sometimes success means you’re invisible. When people don’t have to think to use your website, people don’t notice you. When your systems don’t crash, people don’t notice. Some of the things with the greatest impact go unnoticed.
- Audience driven solutions: Do you care more about the people using your tools than the tools or solutions themselves? Do you have regular contact with your audience? Are you asking them what they need? If so, you can’t help but make a difference.
- Setting goals and measuring progress: Research says there’s no better motivating factor for people than a clear and obtainable goal. Make sure you have them and celebrate when they’re met.
- Taking risks: Often things that make the most difference are risky. Don’t be scared to try things and fail. We work on the web and creating great websites is a process. That means our work is never complete. If your team is taking risks, you’re most likely making a difference.
With those things in mind, I leave this week reminding myself of what matters and how, in a small way, it’s possible to make a big difference.