Information Architecture and Content Strategy
Every cause needs content. Engaging information and rousing calls to action bring new ideas to the imagination of millions. Meanwhile, stale data without direction dooms projects to be misunderstood. How complex is a project? How easy is it to find information? How easy is that information to use? These questions must be answered early – and asked again often.
Information architecture gives ideas and projects their structure, informing the decisions of what to say to whom. It gives users a map of where to find what they are looking for and how to use it. Content strategy makes the decisions, setting the tone and timing for content that users can understand and act upon. Strong architecture and strategy leads to graceful designs and prime content to build user loyalty and encourage action.
Development-based research can inform information architecture, discovering the ideal structure for a user group beyond what is convenient for a website or network. Ethnographic methods and user interviews are now supplemented by new data analysis methods to discover what users found and what they did not. Michael’s experience in content strategy and visualizing information helps users connect and be loyal to communications projects from small businesses to international aid agencies.
Cross-Cultural User Experience Design
User experience is a vital portion of any corporate, governmental, or humanitarian venture and – unfortunately – the most likely portion to fail. Direct communications in extreme situations such as conflict and disaster can make or break a project, costing money, time, and lives. Many remote populations are presented with user interface problems at all times. Cross-cultural development is often the most expensive share of a new communications project’s budget, requiring more than half of all small- and medium-scale global enterprise funds.
A development-based perspective allows companies and other organizations to focus on what to say, followed by how to say it. A focus on local preferences and how they relate to technology reduces confusion and tension. More importantly, the use of local values makes projects sustainable, as indigenous personnel become stakeholders in the process of improving their own communities. Development-based user experience research – using local knowledge to enhance your project’s global capability – reduces costs and increases returns by promoting satisfaction, then happiness for your clients.
The development-based model, incorporating aspects of community empowerment principles and traditional process optimization, is a proven method for creating sustainable for-profit and non-profit communications projects while maintaining social responsibility and lowering expenditures. Michael has applied this model to humanitarian operations in conflict zones and disaster areas as well as to transnational business models between and within developing and industrialized nations.
Disaster Risk Management
The last decade has been a revolution in disaster preparedness, with new challenges of natural and man-made disasters: the changing nature of warfare, the appearance of environmental phenomena, and changes in global systems. Methods of preparation and response have been vastly improved, largely through cooperation where none previously existed, but there is still much work to be done. The number of businesses that can recover after a major disaster is dropping while the number of business in areas most likely to be affected by disasters is rising.
In the 21st century, every organization must have a disaster response plan, focused on the assessment and protection of personnel and resources. In the past, this was often limited to fire wardens and phone chains, but such a superficial approach to the complexities of calamity is not nearly enough. Every organization is exposed to risk, and management begins with knowing the nature of risks and the amount of exposure. In addition, many organizations are responsible for vital interests of the communities they serve, and they are more likely to survive a disaster if those interests are accounted for. Good neighbors are strong neighbors.
Disruption is an inevitability in business and humanitarian operations during a disaster, but it does not need to be a catastrophe and it certainly does not need to be the end of an operation. Michael has ten years’ experience in disaster response, ranging from emergency medicine to extreme logistics, as well as disaster management and business recovery training from FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. Whether looking years ahead or preparing just-in-time response as a disaster approaches, he has a proven record of mitigating damage before it occurs through comprehensive risk analysis and managing organizational preparation.
Social Responsibility Management
In 2015, the previous record for global increase in temperature was broken for the third consecutive year. How much will the planet warm in 2016? Climate change provokes considerations of how we interact with the natural world and how we operate in the business world. Some areas are becoming more accessible while many others are under serious threat of cataclysmic change. Every business and organization needs a clear plan on how it intends to address these challenges.
New research and technologies are opening up possibilities of arresting climate change, and many governments are offering incentives to ventures that employ them. Alternative fuels are becoming a bigger part of transportation and electricity generation. However, these developments are progressing slowly and people may believe the problem is too big or it is too late to make a difference. This is not the case; even without these developments, there is much that can be done at the personal and organizational level to address environmental change.
Discarded resources from some operations may be valuable to others, as demonstrated by donated goods from corporations finding use in humanitarian fields. Energy-saving methods cut down on waste and pollution without any radical change in sources. In many cases, environmental education is the most important step that an enterprise can take towards better stewardship of the planet. Michael provides a holistic approach for organizations to the environment, analyzing their operations as they relate to the environment and balancing administrative needs with the ability to reduce environmental impact.