Joe Gollner

The Dark Arts of Content Leadership

In an increasingly sophisticated and integrated world, the work of content professionals has become very challenging as budgets shrink, timeframes shorten, needs evolve, and products grow in complexity. In this session, you will learn about:

  • What makes content such a special resource in organizations today;
  • How the role of content professionals is being recognized as one that builds connections across functions and organizations;
  • What challenges will confront you as a content professional as you are asked to work closely with an expanding array of teams;
  • What tactics you can use to break down barriers, to mend fences, and to win over reluctant stakeholders; and,
  • What content leadership means and why you will increasingly need to start developing this skill.

In this session, special attention will be given to showcasing some of the many foes that you will encounter on your journeys and what to do about them.

Snakes and Ladders: Content Collaboration in the Real World

This workshop will equip participants with planning tactics for laying out your next content change initiative. The participants will leverage a planning framework and participate in an interactive process of identifying key project opportunities and risks as well as exploring their own project roadmap.

This workshop sets out to achieve these goals by having a little fun. In the modern spirit of gamification, the topic will be approached using the familiar board game of Snakes and Ladders. Essentially, Snakes are hazards that set you back and ladders are strategies and tactics that help you along towards your ultimate goal. The workshop facilitators, as well as past workshop participants, have contributed a library of game building blocks and, over the course of this workshop, participants will add their own. Participants will also develop their own game-board populated with the Snakes and Ladders drawn from this expanded collection of building blocks. The point here is for everyone to tap into, and to benefit from, the project experiences of other practitioners. And using a game model helps to keep this process moving along quickly so that the early steps in framing out a practical content strategy can be accelerated.

Your workshop facilitators will kick things off by introducing the typical organizational landscape to be traversed, some examples of key Snakes and Ladders you will encounter, the general rules of the game, and the benefits that come with winning. The results of the workshop will be compiled and shared with all workshop participants so that they can try it out for real within their own organizations. This workshop, as an exercise in collaborative learning, is designed to help both new and experienced content strategists, team leaders, and project managers.


Joe Gollner is many things:

  • He is the managing director of Gnostyx Research (, an independent supplier of objective guidance and open content technology solutions.
  • He has been a “content gladiator” for over 25 years, implementing content technology solutions of every possible size and shape, and participating in a wide range of standards activities.
  • He blogs as the content philosopher ( and continues to work on his magnum opus, a book about “engineering content”.
  • He is a graduate of Queens University (BA Mathematics and Literature) and the University of Oxford (Masters of Philosophy).
  • He is a well-known speaker within the content management industry, an incurable storyteller, and a “repeat offender” as a keynote at past Lavacon conferences.
  • He is a Canadian (born on Canada Day), an avid and sometimes self-destructive trail cyclist, a family man with four grown children, and something of a world traveller.

Co-Presenting With

Nolwenn Kerzreho: Snakes and Ladders: Content Collaboration in the Real World