Broadband Word of the Day – Mission

Broadband Word of the Day

This series is about words that potentially spell the difference between success and disaster for broadband projects, not by their definitions, but how they are interpreted and/or applied. Pay attention to these because in broadband, how well you meet the challenges you face really depends a lot on how you execute on these key words.

Broadband Word of the Day – Mission

This word gets a lot of broadband initiatives into trouble. Not because project teams don’t know the meaning of the word, or even what their mission is. Problems bubble up when teams can’t articulate what the mission is in such a way that wins critical local support for the project, particularly from city or county elected officials and representatives.

We – the true believers – are very happy to lay out the whole beautiful laundry list of benefits broadband can help achieve. But the average local politicos who hold sway over budgets as well as many constituents (read: potential subscribers) have so much to deal with, they can only focus on one or two of these benefits before becoming overwhelmed by the particulars.

Mark Meier, former CIO of Oklahoma City, OK, was successful getting a major broadband project through the various hurdles he faced because he understood this need for simplicity in presenting the mission. Specifically, he knew how to simplify down to the point that generated the greatest positive reaction.

“The elected officials have a very low understanding of how things are accomplished. Any references to the complexities, the technical issues, even simple references to basic underlying technologies such as MDC [if you don’t know what it is, you get my point] and wireless routers were not effective approaches. We had to talk about what the project would accomplish in dollar figures. We didn’t do it to try to conceal things, but the concept of talking about the nuts and bolts didn’t seem productive.”

Subsequently, you have to find one or two benefits that will be significant in their impact, popular among all political persuasions and fairly easy to measure (justify the network expense). Make this the altar upon which you sing the praises of your broadband mission and move your project forward, even if you plan to tackle the rest of the laundry list in time. Keep that main point front and center. Once you have stakeholders on board, the network gets built and people see the promised benefits, then you have political clout, a path to money and leverage to fully promote the rest of the broadband dream.

Five signs your project team is presenting your broadband mission effectively

  1. A 10-year-old and a 70-year-old can accurately describe what your mission is
  2. At least one member of every political party represented on the city council/board of supervisors understands and supports your mission (even if they won’t publicly)
  3. The mayor (head county commissioner) can state what you’re doing in 30 seconds, and also have a 15-minute accurate conversation on TV about the project
  4. Someone can read, watch, listen to 10 different ads for your services and understand what your mission is without reading the mission statement
  5. Your mom stops asking when you’re going to get a good job

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