Wow, you try to do one little thing, and everyone gets all upset!  Well, that’s how it feels, and it’s a real lesson.  So I’ll explain, and then try to clarify.

As I posted, one of the two things I’m pushing is something that’s trying to improve elearning, and we’re having our launch on Thurs, March 13th at noon PT (3ET). To get attention, the four of us (Michael Allen, Julie Dirksen, and Will Thalheimer are my con-conspirators) have been teasing the event, trying to build awareness.  And this has turned out to be a problem we didn’t anticipate.

Our goal was to use our names by capitalizing on the situation what while the four of us who, while friends and colleagues, were independent of one another professionally, we had banded together on this initiative. We believed, naively, that people would infer our intentions to be benign. And many did.

Including the trustees we’re so grateful to.  We briefed a handful of respected individuals around the industry (not everyone we could and should, but a representative sample across many sectors that we could work with quickly), and got them to lend their names in support.

So we started our marketing, including the site, a press release, and our social media efforts.  And learned that what was obvious to us wasn’t obvious to others. There were clear concerns that the focus was on us, not on the message, and that our motives were dubious.

We received both private and publicly expressed concerns about our intentions.  Maybe we were trying to promote a book, or a consultancy, or collecting email addresses.  And this was an unpleasant surprise.  When I have a chance to work with people like Michael, Julie, and Will that I respect for their intellect, concern, and integrity, it is painful to have our motives questioned.

Yet it was an clear miscalculation on our parts that our intentions would be obvious to all. As soon as we got wind of the concerns, we discussed how to respond, and as a consequence, we reined in the messages about us on the site.  We removed our pictures from the pre-launch page, and toned down the ‘authors’ page.  Hopefully that’s enough.

Because, the message is the important thing.  Frankly, we’d prefer that the change happens and we get no recognition.    It’s not about us; we’ve got other fish to fry.  We’ve no joint book, no consultancy, and the only reason we’d do anything with any email addresses would be to tell them updates with nothing for sale. We believe that the message would be sullied with any such attempts, and we do not want to risk the chance of undermining the message, and the hoped-for change.

So, a valuable lesson learned about marketing.  Trying to inspire curiosity using a launch event, and trusting to our names beforehand was, in retrospect, too self-aggrandizing.  We probably needed to focus on at least the core of the message, rather than just the mystery of what we were up to.  We still hope you’ll attend, and more importantly agree to try harder on the change we’re agitating for. As to the change? Well, the short answer is better elearning.  For the specifics, you’ll just have to wait :).  BTW, in addition to the launch, at least a subset of us will be discussing the desired change at Learning Solutions session 105 on Wednesday March 19 at 1PM, followed by a Morning Buzz on Thursday.  Hope to see you at one of these!

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