Bob Mosher (BM): We’re honored today to have a dear friend of mine, Chris Blocher from Autodesk. Chris, could you start by sharing the context of your journey along with a bit of your background, so the audience knows a bit more where you’re coming from?
Chris Blocher (CB): Sure. I’ve been in the content world for almost twenty-five years now, starting with a publishing company back in Boston and working my way through Training and Learning which is where I met you, Bob, and ultimately landing here at Autodesk. Autodesk is a software company based in San Francisco, California and there I am the principle Content Experience Designer for Fusion 360. I also work through Content Strategy for them.
BM: You have a wonderful past, could you give us a little bit about what is the pull or push or desire to go into The 5 Moments. Why The 5 Moments of Need now for your organization? What’s been the driver?
CB: So, we, as most large companies do, have a lot of restructuring and reorganizations that happen internally. In the recent year or two we’ve landed in kind of a sweet spot where a lot of content ideas that we’ve had in the past that I’ve bounced off of you at times, we’ve been able to bring to bear. And it’s kind of a “planets aligning” situation where we have a management that is very focused on making our software as discoverable and learnable as possible, as well as the design organization that is supportive. And we are working now with a development organization now. So it’s kind of fortuitous.
BM: Yeah, that’s an interesting alignment, frankly, that you’re all getting behind the customer and the use of the product. That’s pretty impressive, having been a part of a software company myself at one time or another. So what’s your interest in applying this now? What’s your focus with the 5 Moments?
CB: Again, with so many organizations inside of one product, we all generate a lot of content for various purposes and there was a lack of awareness in many cases and just a misunderstanding about who was responsible for what kinds of content.
So we wound up in this new situation where suddenly we were all thrust into the same room, if you will. And the discoveries were happening. “Oh, you do this kind of content? We do too!” “Well, why do you do that? Why do we do that?” You know?
I kind of think of it as a game of 52 Pickup where you take the deck of cards and kind of throw it on the floor and then it’s a matter of getting those cards back in order in the deck. And so, we’re still discovering repositories of content that we didn’t know about and going through responsibilities, as they were somewhat vague, and everyone was doing their best to fill in what they perceived as gaps in the content pool.
So, we would take these gaps and we would wind up duplicating efforts. And in some cases, we would do it better than the other teams, whereas in other cases we do it less usefully than the other teams. So the quality of the content in various scenarios was differing too much. We had multiple different patterns and processes for developing the content.
It was The 5 Moments of Need that really gave us a rallying point. And by making it about the subscriber and their moment of learning need, it really got everybody to the table. That was a powerful realization for us.
BM: You know what I think is so powerful about your story, Chris? And you have been gracious enough to allow me to peek in at times and look at your good work. I think one of the more misunderstood values of this methodology—we talk about the Pyramid all the time and listeners are probably familiar with that—but we spend an awful lot of time at the top of it and that makes sense because it’s all about where the person enters and accessibility to steps. People think of help systems obviously, when they think about performance support and such. But your move toward content aggregation, content centralization, the lower parts of the pyramid are really, I think, some of the unsung heroes of this methodology. Because so many organizations have a content nightmare. The legacy systems are terrible. Their metadata, if they have it, is lousy. They are siloed, like you described, so one doesn’t talk to the other which creates redundancy and all that kind of stuff. I think you’ve done a remarkable job of really getting some rich content out there and available to your learners.
So give us a point in time. Where are you in the journey?
CB: So right now, we are kind of cycling on the Engage aspect. We are constantly finding new people that we need to tell, and then gain resources from them. So what we wound up doing was kind of circling back on that repeatedly and what I was struggling with was the storytelling aspect of it.
You know, you tell the story once, twice, three times, you kind of are at wit’s end. I won’t say aggravated but it’s like, “Why doesn’t this make sense?” At that’s where I give credit to my manager. He has the patience of Job and is much better at keeping things at a higher level, giving the people what they need to know so that we can get the resources that we need to move forward.
So, the engage level has been churning a little bit, but we are making progress. We are able to get all the ecosystems tied together. We have our own search engine that enables that and allows us to tap into the various ecosystems. This is kind of how we are bringing it together.
One of the things about The 5 Moments that—only after going through the training did it make sense to become certified in The 5 Moments of Need—was the Engage model. I have been relying on that spreadsheet for a long time now and I constantly return to it because when things feel like they are getting too loose or they are getting out of control, I return to that LEaP model to bring myself back to center, and also to make sure we are crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s.
BM: So obviously, we talked about the fact that you have these repositories, and I don’t mean this meanly, but you have all these product groups and siloes that naturally form because of that. Totally understandable. But that has created, again, for you this remarkable content management strategy. And I think that’s an area our listeners would love to hear more about. It’s an area we don’t talk enough about, in my opinion. And obviously, it’s integral to the solutions you have built.
So, can you tell us a little bit more about content management as a discipline there and sort of what you’ve gone through in discovering that and making it better?
CB: My introduction to The 5 Moments of Need was attending a conference, there I was able to learn about different ecosystems—content ecosystems—that exist in larger companies just by listening to the various presentations that were given.
So there was one particular paper that really stood out to me in there and I still rely on it to this day—and of course, it escapes me so I’ll have to come back to that, Bob—but the way it worked out was that the paper showed five ecosystems. Six, actually, including the Human Resources side of things. That’s when the light went on for me.
I was always looking at The 5 Moments of Need from a software perspective. Only then did I realize that it was primarily being used for internal training purposes. So, when we first discussed doing this podcast, I jotted down a draft title of “Turning The 5 Moments of Need Inside Out” because I’m looking at outward subscribers rather than internal employees.
But that one paper was kind of the light that went on for me. I was seeing that the Moment of Apply was inside our products. And when they were doing the work. But that was content that was not yet available to the CXD organization—Content Experience Design. That was in development because it was all hard-coded in.
We were covering the New and More aspects of it with the Help documentation and videos and the Change aspect was handled primarily by Develop and Product Management. Then lastly, Solve was covered by our internal support team and our Customer Success organization.
So once I understood the ecosystem idea, I then looked at it as “We have all those inside of Autodesk,” so I took it upon myself to kind of figure out how we could connect these ecosystems. I was talking with somebody in our Search Engine team at one point and I said, “Don’t you crawl all of these locations?” And he said, “Yeah, we already do.”
So I just had a conversation and said, “Then how do you get that information?” And it really boiled down to metadata and targeted websites. So, what we did was look at the metadata that was available in the various solutions and see what we could steal.
And that was where we started our focus, at the Moment of Apply. Because we already had New and More achieved with the Help documentation, we knew the metadata there was very stable and set because we owned it.
Where we are still having challenges is with Moments of Change and Solve. Rather than metadata for most of that content, we are relying on the search engine for key words. So we are able to kind of switch back and forth between metadata and key words.
The quality of the returned content solution may differ when we go to key words, but our search setup is such that we are focused on Autodesk-approved resources. So, we are not getting external influences.
To hear how Chris and his team are working together to make this change, their biggest challenges, and his advice for others making this shift to a performance-first mindset—listen to the entire episode.
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