Creating a toolkit, a template, any resource is relatively easy. Bring a bunch of experts together, create an outline, write the content, and even develop worksheets and activities for people to do. Take the package to a designer to make it look brilliant and then share it with the world.
Once it is shared with the world, thousands or perhaps millions of people will use whatever you’ve created, right? Unfortunately, no. There are thousands, in not millions, of incredibly good resources out there, developed by brilliant and well meaning experts. They sit on shelves. Well meaning, but unused. Incredibly useful, but unused.
There are countless reasons for this, but one is output thinking. We believe the reason we create the tool or resource is for its creation. Perhaps we need to think about its use. Use requires people being aware of its existence, trusting its value, and understanding how to use it. Use also tends to involve status and willingness to tell others.
Many professional sectors, including aid, have graveyards full of great resources because the resource became the output, not its use. And don’t get me wrong, during the development of many of these resources, there were conversations about who the intended user was, what they needed. In many cases, conversations were even had with the intended users. The intent of usefulness was and is present.
The thing is that most projects to create resource are just that – projects to create, not to disseminate. Projects end when the resource is created. Dissemination or awareness or dare I say ‘marketing’ is not part of the project. Or if it is, it is a one off. Getting people to be aware or use the resource is not the same as announcing to the world it exists. Especially now.
I know this very well as the resource graveyard has many resources with my name on it.
Dissemination or getting others to use your resource is the hard part. Hard to do and often even hard to measure. Some people argue it is therefore better to create a market for your resource before you create the resource. Others argue to create your resource with the people it is for. Still others argue to talk about your resource as you research it, create it, build it. There is no right way to do this, but having people use your resource is key – it’s why you go through the work of creating it. Perhaps it’s time to pay much more attention (over 70% of the project’s time) on dissemination.
The choice is up to us.