In addition to helping build a community to support and develop the Federal Learning Registry AND helping to build a community to work towards the CMI Data Model Harmonization, I’ve now been given the go-ahead to lead a considerably more complex challenge: overhauling the web presence for ADL.

Before you even think it, yes, this likely means re-doing the website, but that’s probably the easy part (and it’s not even easy). For example, a static, “who are we” site has all sorts of tough choices. Even if the technical implementation is pretty straightforward, there’s a host of hard conversations and the discussions around a new web presence for an organization force everyone to start to look at themselves through the same organizational mirror.

I have a personal philosophy that is matching up with ADL, which is that we’re going to be doing a lot more things in open and transparent ways, get the community involved and get the real stakeholders (end users and partners of various types) engaged to help us make better decisions. This is starting to happen with the CMI Data Model Harmonization effort. Now I want to develop a new web presence for ADL that the interested public can follow (broadly) and get involved with.

How do I design a process that will help a broad audience follow what we’re doing, and while that’s happening, engage people who are committed to volunteering their ideas?

Here’s my plan, and I would really like some feedback on it.

I intend to launch a wiki that will be publicly available to document the effort and organize all the relevant information, decisions, etc.  I think the wiki should contain the following: a charter, the breakdown of the process we’ll use, the deliverables, milestones, tasks, roles and responsibilities, communication plans, progress information and a Code of Conduct that outlines what expectations are for participation.

I intend to launch a discussion list related to the initiative for the public to take part in once I have some specific goals identified for the user community outside of ADL. What I don’t want to do is set up all sorts of channels for communication and have nothing to ask of them, with nothing to offer in return.  I want current website users (and many more potential users) to feel like they belong to a community — that their participation means something.  I want to create opportunity for lots of external stakeholders to put their stamps on the effort.

I don’t think it’s just a wiki and a mailing list that will make this work.  It’s going to take many many conversations and activities to keep all the various internal and external stakeholders engaged. I think that’s what is ultimately needed, though.

As my friend Dustin (@dustinupdyke) tweeted,

What you make people feel is just as important as what you makeYour thoughts on how best to set up a web project for an organization that pulls in its customers broadly into the process are most welcome.