Can collaboration tools improve internal communications?

Intranets have developed over recent years from mainly being a channel for a few people to publish news to becoming places where any employee can collaborate and share knowledge with other employees.  I find it ironic that it is internal communications who are hesitant, even resistant, to embrace these changes.  Ironic because many intranet teams are located within internal communications.  Doubly ironic as it is normally intranet teams who are involved with how collaboration tools are used.

Instead of embracing this chance to engage with employees using these new tools and integrate them into an enhanced communications framework, internal communications reaction is more often a knee-jerk one that results in more and more ‘official’ news to try to drown out other voices.

I think that’s very sad when it happens.  It’s a bit like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.  It has to face reality at some stage.  The later internal comms leave it, the bigger the challenge it faces to use these tools to the overall benefit of the organisation, employees and internal communications.

Over the next few posts I want to cover how tools like blogs, video, rating and RSS can be used more effectively.  I will also show how I can help you if you need more information and support.

Is this scenario something you are familiar with in your own organisation?

11 responses to “Can collaboration tools improve internal communications?

  1. Couldn’t agree more with the ‘head in the sand’. I also offer up the film Dr Strangelove and the classic line uttered by one of Peter Sellars characters “Gentleman. you can’t fight here, it’s the war room”

    • LOL! Love the clip from Dr Stangelove. Should the quote be updated to “Employees, you can’t communicate here, this is the intranet.”?

  2. The answer to the question “Can collaboration tools improve internal communications?” is undoubtedly “Yes.”

    Sadly, I fear that when a corporate intranet/internal comms team gets some “help” in a strategic collaboration product/toolset, unless they have already a strong sharing culture embedded in the organisation, any nascent sharing/back-channels/collaborative impetus will be stifled with the “Corporate-approved” tool.

    This is particularly so if in an effort to drive people to the new tool, existing channels are shut down/made harder to use.

    • Good to hear from you Steve. I see the good ship BT is still chugging along.

      Have you got a webcam in my office? Your thinking is exactly what I am writing for my next blog post!

      I agree with you. It’s a deeper and wider issue than just implementing a tool for employees to collaborate with others.

  3. One interesting paradox that I have observed is that corporate journalists and communicators often complain that they get notified about the good stories too late or not at all – and yet they can be VERY stubborn in protecting the fact that news come from internal comms ONLY.

    Writing stories is not an exact science. You can learn how to interview and write properly, but everyone can write/contribute…..and IMO they should! The comms people can then use all their writing and interviewing skills to identify the great stories and things that take place daily in all companies.

    • Thanks for your comments Martin. You put your finger right on the spot over internal comms attitude.

      There is room for everyone and every message provided it is made relevant and targeted to the right audience using the best channel.

  4. Mark —

    Coincidentally, I was recently interviewed about similar topics; see:

    This, to me, is the key point: internal communicators can still distribute official messages, but they should NOT be the SOLE providers of context. Instead, ALL employees should be able to provide context, making the context much richer as it arrives from a variety of perspectives, thereby enriching understanding for all.

    • Hi William,

      Many internal comms professionals could learn a lot from your example at AEP.

      I agree with your view and will listen to your interview. It is also an opportunity for internal comms to take a more strategic role and see the bigger picture.

      Martin Risgaard’s comments below are very relevant to this.


  5. As long as org comms operate within a “push” mindset, things will stay the same. Only when they start to embrace the “pull” mindset (e.g. inviting others to join/create/comment/link, subscribing to content/topics, following people, facilitate knowledge flows, etc.) things will change, imo.

    • Too true Joachim. It’s changing their mindset and role first to see this as a chance to create a better role that gives even more value to an organisation and facilitates more employee engagement.

  6. Looking forward to the series, Mark!

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