Category Archives: mark morrell ltd

How do I engage employees and improve collaboration?

It’s  the type of question I am hearing more frequently.  It’s being asked by intranet people, CIOs, senior business operations managers and even a few CEOs.  It’s important that it is answered clearly and fully.  The alternative of ignoring it is to risk a repeat of what happened to knowledge management in the late 1990s when it was ‘the thing’ to talk about and be seen to be doing but sadly, in many cases, never able to meet its full potential helping businesses.

I don’t claim to know all the answers and there is more than one way to address this question.  In fact it is a deeper and complex subject which needs covering for this question to be answered fully.

Based on my knowledge and experience in my new role as an intranet pioneer and as BT’s intranet manager with intranet governance, social media, engagement and digital workplace I will post my suggestions on how you can:

  • engage people in your organisation
  • encourage better collaboration
  • get the culture right
  • adapt to changing ways of working
  • make an impact on the bottom line that your business watches

Digital workplace is now in Wikipedia

While I was writing my previous posts on the digital workplace I was surprised to find no article about the digital workplace in Wikipedia.  So, I have decided to put that right!

You can find my attempt at explaining what the digital workplace means in Wikpedia now.

Please read the Wikpedia article on the digital workplace and, more importantly, contribute to it so it grows into the definitive explanation everyone can refer to.

I am now intranet-pioneer.com

It is now easier for you to find my site and blog. You just need to go to intranet-pioneer.com.

Why intranet-pioneer?

Well, I believe I am an intranet pioneer combining strategic thinking with implementation skills.  Over many years I have developed intranet strategies and have first-hand practical experience of implementing major technology and change projects.

As the former BT Intranet manager, I transformed BT’s intranet into one of the best intranets globally for governance, engagement and collaboration also measuring the full value BT’s intranet contributed.

Now I have my own business, Mark Morrell Ltd.  As an intranet pioneer I can help you with your intranet strategy, governance, standards and use of collaboration tools.  I can also share with you my knowledge and experience of SharePoint 2010, the digital workplace and other intranet topics.

And the ‘-‘ makes it better for search engine optimisation in case you wondered. :-)

My special thanks to Jane McConnell for all her help.

Extending a pioneering blog

As my career as an intranet pioneer has moved on from being BT’s intranet manager to running my own intranet business, I thought it was a good time after blogging for over 3 years to refresh my site.

The blog posts are still there for you to read, comment and share.  But you now have links to find out more:

  • About me
  • My experience
  • My services
  • My media engagements
  • Intranet experts (and my friends)

So, please find a few minutes to look at this extra information and contact me if I can help you further.

Any comments on the new site will be welcome……..as always. :-)

4 factors critical to good governance in a digital workplace

In my last four posts on the digital workplace I have covered ‘Must have digital workplace principles’, ‘5 steps to a great digital workplace strategy’, 7 ways to engage people in a digital workplace and lastly ‘Create a brilliant digital workplace with me’.

To have a successful digital workplace (my definition is ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’) organisations must have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It becomes the natural way of working so everyone is more productive and your organisation more efficient with:

  • people work from any location as well as their office workstation
  • IT infrastructure for the same or similar experience
  • everyone can read news, collaborate, search and complete tasks
  • individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
  • organisations measure benefits and encourages digital workplace

Follow these ‘must have’ principles including strategy, engagement, governance, HR policies and IT infrastructure and you will have a great digital workplace.

Governance

It is important the whole of the digital workplace is managed so that it brings benefits to the organisation, individuals and collectively, everyone.  It should mean the feeling that ‘things are better’ permeates through to everyone and encourages even greater use of the digital workplace.

It means the level of governance balances the rewards to be gained while avoiding any risks.  That doesn’t come naturally but through good governance of the digital workplace including:

Ownership

Who is responsible for developing the strategy, implementing the digital workplace and ongoing management of it?  It is difficult for one person to have overall responsibility for so many key roles and activities.  Neither is it best for it to be one person.

The best solution is to have a steering group made up of stakeholders from key parts of the business most affected by the digital workplace.  These stakeholders should be senior people with decision making authority not someone who has to refer back to his/her line manager and delay matters.

There may be dedicated roles for people responsible for collaboration, ways of working, etc, but they should ultimately report in to the steering group.

The worse solution is to have competing groups of people each implementing conflicting standards, designs and ways to use the digital workplace.  That will be a disaster and must be avoided!

Consistency

You really need a consistent level of governance across your digital workplace.  By consistent I don’t mean the same.  I mean it is what everyone using the digital workplace would expect or need.

For publishers/site owners who are publishing in the digital workplace accredited types of content (policies, factual stuff) the expectation is for a more rigorous approach than for collaborative content where opinions and views require a lighter touch.

For people using the digital workplace to view information and news, use workflow applications or collaborate with each other, they expect the look and feel of the digital workplace to be similar.  Tools needs to be branded in line with the business’ colours and designs.  Features need to encourages everyone to use them more such as help links, contact points, easily laid out and functional designs.

All the different parts of the digital workplace need to be integrated so they are seen as one whole entity not a different set of silos, resources with some electronic sticking plaster added to make them look as if they are connected when they don’t give that impression to anyone using them.

Standards

One approach is to have a set of standards based on the needs of the organisation (information retention), regulation (who has permission to see what), legal (web accessibility) and technical (DNS policy).  These can be applied appropriately across the digital workplace for each activity.  So for formal type content (policies and procedures) it’s most likely all the standards will apply.  For applications (HR processes) it’s probable that most will apply too.  But for collaboration you will apply a lighter touch.

Alternatively you can create standards that only apply to certain information and applications to meet the purpose people need to use it for.

It is about getting the balance right again.  You don’t need to be too restrictive and stifle innovation and collaboration.  But you don’t want it to be too loose so that the business and individuals risk non-compliance with a legal or regulatory requirements.  It’s not easy but getting it right is critical and benefits everyone and the business.

Integrity

This is the real litmus test, the crunch point for me.  Do people have confidence in the information and tools they are using in the digital workplace?  Does everyone feel encouraged to use the digital workplace more after each time?

The answer has to be ‘YES!’ to these questions.  That is the outcome your strategy and plans should aim for.

However you do this it must balance the needs of the business with those of people working well in a digital workplace.

My next post will cover the HR policies which enable digital working.

7 ways to engage people in a digital workplace

In my last three posts on the digital workplace I have covered ‘Must have digital workplace principles’ then focused on the first principle ‘5 steps to a great digital workplace strategy’ and lastly ‘Create a brilliant digital workplace with me’.

To have a successful digital workplace (my definition is ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’) organisations must have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It needs to become the natural way of working so everyone is more productive and your organisation more efficient with:

  • people working from any location (or mobile) rather than their office workstation
  • IT infrastructure for the same or similar experience wherever someone uses the digital workplace
  • everyone able to collaborate, search, complete tasks as well as read the latest news
  • individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
  • organisations measure the benefits and encourage you to use the digital workplace

Follow these ‘must have’ principles including strategy, engagement, governance, HR policies and IT infrastructure and you will have a great digital workplace.

I’m going to cover how people need to be engaged for a digital workplace to be successful.

Engagement

It is absolutely critical to your organisation to have people working who are fully engaged.  They are satisfied with their roles, happy with their work and their colleagues and look forward to working each day.  If not then the costs of lost productivity and extra time spent managing for the same or less output can be horrendous.

There are two audiences you need to engage:

  • For the success of your strategy: your stakeholders
  • For the ongoing success of the digital workplace: everyone

Stakeholders

You have to engage the people who will have biggest influence on your strategy and who will be affected the most.  These are your stakeholders.  They will represent the key functions of the organisation that are either the first priority and/or the biggest factor in whether it succeeds or fail.

Your stakeholders need to buy-in to your digital workplace strategy at the decision making level of your organisation.  You need to communicate clearly and timely what their involvement will be.  They won’t want any nasty surprises – just nice ones!

This is a similar approach to how stakeholders are engaged for successful SharePoint 2010 implementations.

Everyone

How do you get everyone to be comfortable with a digital workplace?  You need to make sure the ideal culture for a digital workplace is in place or planned for before you start.  There are seven factors you need in place for this to work:

  1. Everyone who will benefit is able to adopt this new way of working.  Some may already be working like this, some partly and others planning to.
  2. There is enthusiasm for working in a digital workplace.  It is seen as something positive, that people will want to do and be envious of those who already can.
  3. The culture in your organisation is strong on ‘doing things online’ so individuals can carry out their normal work tasks in a digital
    workplace.
  4. You are encouraged to share knowledge to help anyone in your organisation no matter where their location is or time zones they normally work in.  You may also be incentivised to do this.
  5. You can easily use the tools with no or minimal training to collaborate and share knowledge.
  6. Policies and processes that encourage everyone to use the digital workplace and don’t restrict innovation.
  7. Individuals can easily move from a physical location where they regularly meet their work colleagues to remote locations without feeling isolated because the digital workplace tools help to avoid this.

Applying this approach helps to create a buzz around the organisation for digital working.  People feel envious of those who have started.  There is impatience for everyone to benefit.

Organisations start to see improved productivity and levels of service, processes streamlined and absentee rates dropping.

In my next post I will cover how governance is another ‘must have’ principle for a successful digital workplace.

5 steps to a great digital workplace strategy

In my last post ‘Must have digital workplace principles’ I highlighted the framework your organisation needs to adopt to gain the maximum benefit.

To have a successful digital workplace (which I now define as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’) organisations must have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It needs to become the natural way of working so everyone is more effective and productive and your organisation more efficient and successful.

  • people working from any location (or mobile) rather than their office workstation
  • IT infrastructure providing the same or similar experience wherever someone uses the digital workplace
  • everyone being able to collaborate, search, complete tasks as well as read the latest news
  • individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
  • the organisation measuring the benefits and encouraging you to use the digital workplace

Follow these ‘must have’ principles and you will have a great digital workplace include strategy, engagement, governance, HR policies and IT infrastructure.

Let’s first cover the five steps you need to take for a digital workplace strategy that will work.

Step 1: Alignment

It is vital that your digital workplace strategy is aligned with your organisation’s overall strategy. There is no point planning to invest time and resources to move in one direction if your organisation is going in the opposite way.  You need to be clear what your organisations’ future plans are and make sure your strategy shows how it will help to achieve them.

Step 2: Scope

A digital workplace strategy is wider than most intranet strategies.  It’s more than the traditional role for information published online.  It needs to also cover:

  • where people will be working – mobile, home, cafes
  • how everyone will be working – laptops, smartphones, public PCs
  • what individuals will need for their work – processes, collaboration, email

Step 3: Priorities

You need to have plans for the:

  • short term (0 – 3 months)
  • medium term (3 – 12 months)
  • and long term (over 1 year)

You also need to prioritise the actions you plan to take based on what will benefit your organisation based on:

  • Most people will benefit from
  • Most savings for your organisation
  • Quickest to implement

Step 4: Stakeholders

You need to identify who will have the biggest influence on your strategy and who will be affected the most.  They may be the same people!

These are your stakeholders who you need to maintain good relationships with for your strategy to a) be implemented and b) have the greatest chance of succeeding.

They may be representing finance, your CEO (as well as your CEO), IT, HR and operational units.

Step 5: Resources

Who apart from you is going to create, support and implement your digital workplace strategy?  You will need a team of people, maybe a virtual team practicing digital workplace ways of working.

It is important you focus on the top priorities so you can achieve the maximum change with the resources you have.

As well as people you hopefully will have some budget which needs to be spent wisely so you can show the biggest gain from the money invested.

If you need my help, please get in touch.

In my next post I will cover how engagement is your next ‘must have’ principle for a successful digital workplace.