Content processes, part 3: The token is transformed by the process

Getting familiar with content processes

  • By Blaine Kyllo
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  • Apr 15 2019
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  • Categories: Articles

Processes help content teams operate efficiently to create consistent, impactful content. This series presents an introduction to processes and how they are constructed.

Part 1: Bringing business analysis to content
Part 2: Naming content processes
Part 3: The token is transformed by the process

The work of content may have solitary roles – I’m thinking of the writer, head down cracking against a deadline – but in most organizations, the work of content is something accomplished by teams. That implies that work is being passed along from one person to another.

We call the thing being handed off the “token,” and thinking about what it is helps you discover where one process ends, and another begins.

The token is the thing being worked on

Defining the token helps you identify the process beginning and end points. The token is the object that is being worked on in the process, and it is transformed by the process. When I’m preparing an after-school snack for my kids, the token would be the pieces of bread used to make peanut butter sandwiches.

Consider the “create content item” process, for example. This one is easy, because the content item being created is the obvious token. It is the thing being passed along in each step in the process. It is also transformed by the process, starting out as an idea, becoming a draft which undergoes reviews and revisions – don’t forget the final copyedit/QA step! – and is then published and distributed.

The token for the “create content brief” process is less obvious. But if you imagine the object being passed along and transformed by that process, you’ll see that the content brief itself is the token.

What about the process to “evaluate content”? You might think it’s the content being evaluated, but while the content item might be passed along the process, it isn’t transformed by the process. Consider instead the evaluation report, which captures the pertinent information about the content and distributes it to the appropriate stakeholders.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the token is always going to be the outcome of the process. Sometimes, as with “create content,” this is true. But often, a process will have multiple outcomes that may be connected to the token, without being the token itself.

So the peanut butter sandwiches are one outcome of the process that had pieces of bread as the token. Another outcome is a message to my wife that the kids have been fed. Another is a shout into the backyard to let the kids know their snack is waiting.

Determining the tokens for each process is often an exercise in itself. If you’re identifying or designing processes with your teams, be sure to allow plenty of time for discussions around what the token may be. Doing so will make the work of creating processes easier and faster.