Tag Archives: career path

I wrote a book about governance: ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersWhen an intranet loses its usefulness over time, and people become disengaged and end up working around it rather than through it, I often find that the strategy and governance have been neglected.

Even a strong and appropriate strategy will founder if the governance isn’t in place to execute it.

I see governance as the foundation of a great intranet, and by ‘great’ I mean an intranet that is useful, useable, and supports the organisation’s goals and people’s needs.

I often blog about intranet governance, but my brand new book offers a lot more than I could ever drip-feed via short posts.  Writing a book has helped crystallise my thinking around governance, and delve deep into my past experience as an intranet manager, and as a consultant.

Take a look at my book now – it’s called ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ and I mean for it to be relevant to intranets, collaboration, digital workplace and mobile workspace governance, while focussing on intranets.

I’m so pleased to have it published through Intranätverk, it’s been great to work with Kristian Norling and his team.  Seeing the final book on my tablet has made the months of writing all worth the effort.  I’m thrilled to be able to offer you my experience, guidance, and tips and hope you’ll consider my book a toolkit to better governance and a better intranet.

Please take a look at what the book offers you and your organisation – this is a ‘business book’ that should help organisations of every size, but I also hope it’s of interest to individual practitioners and ‘lone intranet managers’. I think this book can support you.

* Digital success or digital disaster? – Book available now.

* Follow me on Twitter – let me know what you think!

How much is your digital workplace (and manager) worth?

Do you know how much your digital workplace or intranet is worth to your organisation?  How would start to answer the question? With the global economic climate unlikely to improve greatly, organisations will want to know the full benefits to justify before investing in your plans.

In 2015, intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces.  People are increasingly using different methods to connect whenever they need to.  When they connect it is to find information, use apps, share some news or ask for help with a work problem.

In my last three posts I have covered how this is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your digital workplace a great experience, how you need to find everything to avoid it becoming a barren digital desert, to encourage more frequent use and improve people’s productivity.

There are several steps you can take to improve the chances your plans will be approved.  To demonstrate the benefits your digital workplace you will need to look beyond traditional financial ‘ROI’ to wider benefits that also help your organisation:

  1. Have a strategy, governance framework, and information architecture that shows how you support your organisation.
  2. Demonstrate the full benefits of your plans.  Think about the top priorities and goals your organisation has and align with them.
  3. Find the right methods that can assess the different benefits you identify as possible to achieve.  This can be using surveys, polls, or more expert analysis.
  4. Consider the different ways you can show these benefits to convince your stakeholders.  Make sure you talk their language to help them understand your plans.

If you can complete all of these steps, you will have the best chances to gain the resources you need to implement your plans to transform your intranet into a digital workplace.

It may also help show the value you provide as well.  More on that in a later post!

Is this your ‘once in an intranet career’ opportunity?

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. In 2015 organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’.  They are now starting to take steps, sometimes slow and tentatively, towards transforming their online content and apps into something that is better coordinated.  People are also becoming better connected with their digital workplace or intranet whenever they need to be.

While this is great news for intranet practitioners, there is also pressure to make sure you take the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources.  This is a ‘once in an intranet career’ opportunity to turn all your long-held dreams into the digital reality you have wished for.  It can also place a great amount of responsibility on you to get it right.

So, what do you need to do?  How can you turn this into your proudest moment in your career rather an underwhelming disappointment?

To successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace where people can collaborate, have mobile access and apps on demand you need to consider what steps to take.  These should include:

  1. Vision: What does the future look like?  What will your organisation become in the future?  How will your intranet/digital workplace support it?  You need to be able to clearly answer these questions from your senior leaders.
  2. Direction: What is the right direction from your intranet?  How will you get from today’s intranet to the future digital workplace?  You need to be aware what your organisation’s strategic priorities are.  You need to see how your digital workplace can align with and support their achievement.
  3. Requirements: What are your organisation’s requirements?  Have you an existing strategy for your intranet?  You need to identify what exactly your senior leaders – stakeholders – need from you.  You also need to seek support from senior leaders for your plans.
  4. Plan: How are you going to complete your journey from intranet to digital workplace?  You need to be able to work out the resources needed, prioritise your activities, and timescales to achieve everything.
  5. Measure: What is the current position?  How does the transformation compare when it is completed?  You need to demonstrate the changes you have made.  You should measure the full value gained – not just the narrow ROI formula – to show how your organisation benefits from a digital workplace.

For me, these are essential steps to take when transforming your intranet into a digital workplace.  This could be the most important thing you do in your intranet career.

Make sure you research to learn from other transformations, both good and not so good outcomes.  Seek advice from people who have experience or you trust.  If in doubt, seek expertise to help you get it right.

You probably won’t get a second chance if it goes wrong so make sure you prepare thoroughly so you will succeed.

Go on! Inspire other intranet professionals…

Have you recently worked hard making some improvements to your intranet?  Did you get recognised within your organisation for your efforts?  Are people using your intranet giving great feedback about the changes?  If you answered “Yes” to these questions then you should consider sharing your intranet with other professionals to help inspire them!

The Intranet Innovation Awards are the premier awards for intranet professionals. Drawing on the best of intranet work around the world, these awards are unique in their recognition of individual improvements, and not intranets as a whole. Winning intranet professionals obtain widespread visibility, a magnificent glass trophy, and more support within their own organisations.

Now is the time to get your entry in, for your chance to win a lovely glass trophy. The closing date is Friday 6 June 2014.

It is easy to enter, doesn’t require much effort, when you complete the entry form.  Check it out, gain that critical external recognition and inspire other intranet professional!

My 2013 ‘fabulous five’ predictions

Several people have asked me what my predictions are for 2013 for intranets and digital workplaces.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to give my view from more of a practitioner’s perspective than maybe others have done.  So as that legend in his own lunchtime, Tony Blackburn on Pick of the Pops  (c’mon you’re not that young to not know him in the UK at least! :) ) says “Ok pop pickers, here is the fabulous five!”.

1. Not just a flexi fortnight

In 2012 we had the fantastic experience of the London Olympics and Paralympics.  Many blue chip and dyed in the wool organisations with office workers in London had a big shock and had to wrench their employment practices quickly into the 21st century by letting people work away from the office at home or other more local places.  People were trusted to work as normal for each of these games events.  Amazingly it all went smoothly with many organisations realising here was a quick way of helping to save costs with pressure on their business performance.

I predict many ‘flexi fortnight’ organisations will invest heavily in making the digital workplace permanent in 2013 and help change many people’s work/life balance for the better as well as improve overall business performance.  They will need help though!

2. SharePoint will be ‘good enough’

SharePoint 2010 and increasingly 2013 will continue to be the major technology deployed by large organisations transforming their intranets into digital workplaces.  Why?  Well, there are not many alternatives to choose from now or likely during 2013.  Organisations may not choose it for the right reasons ‘herding sheep’ is sometime the image that comes to my mind.  Where the real challenge will be is the perennial areas of strategy and governance.

I predict many organisations will need help unpicking poor decisions taken without the full knowledge of what SharePoint is capable of.  We know that it can be capable of many good things if in the right hands – then again the opposite happens too.

3. ‘Social media’ a threat to internal comms?

And the problem is partly the term ‘social media’ which is misleading in my humble opinion.  I always use terms which are more practical and relevant when talking with clients.  The same should apply for intranet/digital workplace practitioners when talking to their internal partners and customers.  So we’re helping people to find other people with similar interests to help solve a problem quicker, easier and maybe cheaper rather than ‘knowledge management’ and improving communications by people showing how much they value it by sharing, liking, rating, and commenting on it rather introducing ‘Facebook’ or ‘social media’.

I predict internal communications will ‘get it’ and see this as a big opportunity to gain better employee engagement.  Use the right terms and examples to get a better understanding of what it’s all about.

4. Security and compliance taken more seriously

We have seen several high-profile examples of organisations with previously strong reputations and brands suffer severe setbacks because of insecure processes and training and not complying with regulations and legal requirements.  It really is time that organisations looked at ALL the legal and regulation requirements as a joined up picture for what is needed in a digital workplace.  There has always been a risk that sensitive information can be mislaid since the written word many centuries ago so it’s not a new problem.

I predict organisations will ensure their digital workplace governance and processes are robust using software and education to make sure the right behaviour is encouraged to minimise risks of sensitive and commercial information being found by the ‘wrong’ people.

5. Intranet practitioners become INTRANET or DIGITAL WORKPLACE PRACTITIONERS

Yes, it’s my shorthand method of saying the profile for practitioners will grow in 2013.  I do believe as intranets transform into digital workplaces, organisations are realising the value they give them.  I also believe your profile will increase as you engage with more senior managers over wider areas that are relevant to a digital workplace than just to intranets.  I sincerely hope the value you provide in your role will be recognised and rewarded.

I predict 2013 is the year when many intranet practitioners will find by the end of it their career on a much stronger path with many people showing more interested in wanting to be part of this journey and more willing to help you.

Whatever happens in 2013 I hope you achieve your ambitions!

Is there a career path from intranets to digital workplaces?

I have written before about career paths and future job opportunities for intranet practitioners.  I don’t believe the only option is to become intranet consultants like I chose to do after leaving as BT’s intranet manager.  If you want to move to another organisation then IntraTeam’s job vacancies in LinkedIn is a good place to start looking.

This post is about career development and progression within your own organisation.  It’s about taking advantage by the creation of the digital workplace to extend your experience and skills into wider and more strategic areas of your business.  I also owe this post to a certain intranet professional (yes, you know who you are!) who I promised this to sometime ago.

At the moment many intranet practitoners are based in the Communications part of their organisation. For intranets it’s probably been the best place since intranets were created.  Typically the first use of intranets was probably to improve communications which then developed into information management, standards, etc.  While intranets mainly had that traditional purpose it made good sense to work there.

Being an intranet manager was a unique role, not always fully understood, and led to frustration when you wanted to take the next step on a career path.  The question was in which direction and, more importantly, whether your organisation recognise your skills and experience could transfer to another role and business unit.  Sadly for many frustrated intranet practitioners this didn’t happen.

The evolution of the digital workplace changes this.  The digital workplace covers social intranets – collaboration with wikis, blogs, shared workspaces; applications – training, performance management, ordering services; micro-blogging – Yammer, Twitter along with the focus changing from the IT equipment chosen by the organisation to what an employee wants to continue using for personal and business use and the changing way in which people don’t need to be in one place to do their work and connect with the information and tools they use.

It means the natural base for ownership of the digital workplace is not in Communications.  It needs to have broader ownership to reflect the extra functions a digital workplace with stakeholders who can either influence the strategy or be affected by it.  Jane McConnell’s recommends a digital board which sounds right to me.  After all, it will still need managing to be effective.

Being part of this digital board can raise your profile with more senior managers who have a broad, strategic, view of the organisation and how technology can enhance operations.  Instead of being the big fish in an intranet bowl think of becoming a smaller fish in a bigger digital workplace bowl.

The digital workplace gives you new new career path opportunities to:

a) Expand your existing role to be more strategic and wider in its scope

b) Take on a new role connected to your intranet role because your skills and experience are better understood and appreciated

How is the best way to do this?  Are there better examples?

Intranets are still very much alive!

I read with interest the blog posts by Tony Byrne ‘Death of the Intranet‘ and by Martin White ‘Death of the Intranet: ‘The Times They are a-changin’‘.  They are both interesting posts with provocative titles to catch the attention.  It has caused some great discussions about intranets which is great.  The biggest and most negative reaction I found has been from intranet practitioners who feel it is an over reaction and not how they see things.

Having recently been an intranet practitioner as the BT Intranet manager before becoming a consultant, I can see the subject from both points of view.  I believe intranets are still live and kicking  To adapt the famous quotation by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal “The reports of the death of the intranet are greatly exaggerated” in my opinion.

Continually evolving

I believe intranets are naturally evolving and maturing.  Over the past 15 years intranets have been called many different names.  Intranets have needed to adapt to changes in technology, different business requirements and climates.  But they are still here and thriving.  The digital workplace is a wider environment that intranets will be a vital component of.  Yet another evolution for intranets to absorb and adapt to.

Wikipedia says ‘Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity.  Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.’  I agree with that from my experience of how intranets generally are being used.

Different tools to access intranets like mobiles won’t end the intranet.  It’s just another opportunity to show how adaptable intranet can be in providing the information people need while on the move from their smartphones.  Intranets are still the bloodstream for information and applications, properly managed and accessible any time, any place, any where and more and more using any device, that employees need to do their work each day.

Passionate practitioners

I am writing a report about how the passion showed by intranet practitioners about their organisation’s intranet that they manage can help accelerate improvements.  I believe it is the personality as well as the abilities of an intranet manager that can help achieve more.  Intranet practitioners know better now than ever before how to feel the pulse of their intranet and organisation it supports.

I recall in my previous role how I would champion again and again something I believed passionately about would improve BT by its adoption sometimes against sceptical line management as well as partners like IT and some stakeholders.  Of course, judgement is critical as your reputation will suffer if you keep getting it wrong.  My point is that passionate intranet role models are being created which other intranet practitioners can benefit from and will continue to help intranets improve in the years ahead, not die.

The development of the digital workplace will be seen not as a threat but more as an opportunity for two reasons:

  1. The intranet will fit well within the digital workplace and grow in influence on the back of it as more senior stakeholders see how the organisation will benefit from adoption.
  2. The digital workplace role will be another step an intranet practitioner can consider when looking for their next career move (more on this in a later post).

Increasing relevance

Intranet managers don’t feel intranets are dying – quite the opposite in fact.  They believe intranets are moving into a more critical role for the organisations they support.  More and more they are seen as providing a business critical role.  This is a long way from just being another communications channels.  While I see intranets that are struggling to show value and be taken seriously by their senior stakeholders, there are many intranets growing in value and championed by practitioners who have learnt how to seek support and sponsorship and can talk the language of the business not just the technology.

I believe senior stakeholders, as with intranets, have matured in the last few years.  They understand better how intranets have added value, shown benefits in the wider sense and don’t think in straitjacket terms of just ‘return on investment’ so loved by Finance for business case submissions.

For me intranets are a living organism at the heart of organisations, managed by passionate people and increasingly championed by senior stakeholders who ‘get it’ about intranets and can see how they will continue in the wider digital workplace that is unfolding now.