Category Archives: communication

Is your intranet a campaigning tool?

Have you been asked to support a campaign or issue that you feel strongly about?  I don’t mean someone asking you in the same room.  I am talking about finding out using social media like Facebook posts or tweets on Twitter.

Campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Sumofus are very successful in focusing people’s attention on an issue, engaging their support and transforming that into action that is effective in achieving its aim.

The speed with which support can be gained is very impressive.  The method of giving your support is very quick and simple.  The ripple effect from publicising progress gains a momentum of its own.

I am sure we can all think of recent successful campaigns.  Probably most of you have supported a campaign because the issue meant something to you…..

……which got me thinking (I know, that’s a dangerous thing for me to do! )

Would organisations have the courage to use their intranets as a business tool to identify barriers to employee satisfaction and productivity using a version of these tools?

Accepting that factors like communication channels, inclusive culture need to be working well, would tools like this help organisations avoid long-running disputes or make business decisions without being aware of the full picture?

In the UK (still part of the EU!) if an online petition reaches 100,000 signatures it has to be debated by MPs in Parliament and people who signed are updated on its progress and the outcome of the debate. (the latest was whether Trump should visit the UK or not).

So, with my governance hat on I believe this could benefit organisations and add to an intranet’s reputation as the nerve centre with a few simple rules.

  1. Avoid moderation.  Employees want to be trusted to have a free hand in the views they express and the range of support and how to gain it.  Most employees are able to see whether an issue is a genuine or just someone raising a personal gripe.
  2. Set a time limit for the length of the campaign.  You want to identify the burning issues that could quickly cause problems rather than those that will keep chuntering on for ever and are unrealistic.
  3. Set a sign-up threshold for issues to achieve before action is taken.  You could make that an absolute number e.g. 1,000 or a percentage of total employees.  An upper limit could mean that when the top-level of management next meet the issue is given a minimum of time to be raised and a decision to be made.
  4. Give this channel/tool the appropriate prominence and senior management support.  Employees need to realise it is not a gimmick but a serious approach to tap emerging thoughts and issues.

I am sure some of you will think this is unnecessary or even ridiculous and create nothing but problems.

Others may think ‘What is the downside?’ ‘What is there to lose by trialling it and seeing what happens?’.

You decide….!

How can new publishers comply with your intranet standards?

Implementing publishing standards that meet your organisation’s requirements helps create a consistently good experience for people accessing your intranet.

They are critical to you implementing a successful governance framework.  The publishing standards will support your intranet strategy, publishing model, roles and responsibilities.

All your content owners and editors need to comply with the publishing standards.  Knowing this, people will access your intranet and use it more, confident in the integrity of the content and applications and aware that you ensure publishers comply with each standard.

And that can be the weakest link in your governance framework!  How do you continue to provide that consistently good user experience with new publishers?

I am talking about publishing accredited – news articles, company policies, etc. – content, not collaborative – blogs, discussion groups, etc. – in this post.

Your governance framework must cover how you manage new content owners and editors.  This is the best way to sustain the baseline you have established for best practice.  Without it, people will inevitably see a decline when they access your intranet.  Their productivity and effectiveness risks declining and affecting their overall work performance.

There are five actions that you need to consider taking so new publishers are good publishers:

  1. Induction training on how to use the publishing tool.  This is not just about what to use it for.  It includes how to use the publishing templates.  It needs to covers features like global navigation bar, content owner, review and last updated dates.  By explaining why this is important it helps encourage best practice.
  2. Have good communications channels so new publishers can keep up to date with the latest news that affects them.  Publishers should be able to ask other publishers for help and get answers.  New publishers should feel they are fully informed about how they use the intranet.
  3. Offer clear online guidance and best practice tips on how to publish on the intranet.  Reinforce this when you contact content owners and editors e.g. email, discussion group, conference call or webinar.
  4. Invite all new publishers to join a discussion group covering publishing topics to help develop a broader understanding.  It is much easier (and cheaper) to have peer-to-peer conversations where practical tips are shared quickly with each other.
  5. Have one set of publishing templates that you manage.  Keep publishing simple and easy to encourage best practice.  One publishing process will save content owners and editors’ time.  It avoids the temptation to try alternative methods or create more templates.Book cover - Digital success or digital disasters

Find out more information on how to manage your publishing community and intranet from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is also available.

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!

It’s time for a change

I have been fortunate to work with and view many sites, intranets, digital workplaces, mobile and collaborative spaces since 1996.  Many technology features and fads aimed at helping people have a good experience have come and gone. However, throughout this time, having a clear strategy with good governance to support your intranet, has consistently been shown to help meet your organisation’s key priorities and add measurable value.

Your strategy sets the direction you need to move in with a clear scope and set of aims to be achieved, aligned with other related strategies and overall strategy for your organisation.

Your governance framework helps your strategy continue in the right direction.  It will show how you manage everything and how everyone can work together. It will cover scope, purpose, roles and responsibilities, publishing standards and support, and resources needed.

The main reason for a strategy and governance framework is the benefits to be gained from applying it well. The time and effort are the same but the impact can vary so you don’t always achieve a consistently good experience.

Measuring all the benefits and showing the value to your organisation of a critical business tool will improve your credibility and help to justify future investment.

With that in mind I have re-designed my site to focus on Strategy; Governance; and Measuring Value.

Please contact me if you want to find out more.

I am going to Intranet Now. Are you?

I signed up today to go to Intranet Now, the conference / unconference about intranets and the digital workplace. I am looking forward to going because it is:

  • about the Intranet NOW – practical case studies, real experts, and advice;
  • serious about how the intranet serves its business;
  • concerned with engagement, collaboration, and communication;
  • not dominated by any one technology but illuminated by examples of good practice from many;
  • a place to learn from others (sharing mistakes as well as successes);
  • curious and open to new ideas with room for experimental and left field ideas;

I also want to find out if the governance of intranets and the digital workplace is improving and if so, how that is being done.

It will be a great chance to meet new and existing friends face to face instead of virtually for a change.

There is an early bird discount on  Intranet Now tickets until 24 July so don’t delay, get your tickets today!

10 free guides to help you create intranet content

It is not often that I recommend on my blog information to read that I believe is helpful and easy to read.  Today is an exception (not just because I played a very small part in its creation)! 🙂

ClearBox Consulting with Kilobox Communiqué noticed that while on the top level of intranet sites there is good quality content, as you get into the lower levels standards start to drop.  Often people have been trained on the publishing tool but had little guidance on how to get the most from an intranet as a channel e.g. how to write headlines, how to phrase links, etc.

They have created an excellent set of 10 FREE guidelines, each 1-2 pages long, covering the following topics in plain English:

  1. Effective headlines: help people choose what to read
  2. Images: attracting interest and conveying meaning
  3. Links: how to link to pages and files
  4. Layout: how to structure articles for scanability
  5. How to help people search for, and find, your content
  6. Content: write for your audience, not for your boss
  7. Documents vs pages: when to use PDF, Word, and other formats
  8. Engage: writing to start a conversation
  9. Channels: how to reach the right audiences with your content
  10. Mobile content

I recommend you read and share these with your publishers to help improve the overall experience people have with your intranet.

Thanks Sam and Wedge!

Strengthen employee engagement while working remotely

Happy New Year to you!  I hope you had a relaxing break and have recharged your batteries for 2014.

I was recently asked by Simply Communicate to follow up my 2014 predictions with one for internal communications.  Here it is:

Organisations increasingly face the challenge of how to strengthen employee engagement while their workforce increasingly work from remote locations or while mobile. There is a great opportunity for internal communications to take a leading role with developing a plan that addresses these challenges with greater use of communications channels.

What is different now from previous years is the range of tools and know-how which can be used to successfully have engaged and mobile employees. The key to this will be the rich experience employees will have online as they are able to read communications when they need to, where they need to, and be able to share, feedback, rate the value of the messages with other people who share a similar interest.

An example of this could be combining collaboration tools with traditional online communication channels will help provide that rich experience so a key company announcement video, CEO blog post and detailed background information available is strengthened by a discussion forum managed by internal comms to continue the conversation with quick polls on the awareness and understanding of key messages.

It is how it is implemented and how it is managed within a wider governance framework will help decide how successful it will be. Good luck with whatever you do in 2014!

Read about more 2014 internal communication predictions from simple communicate.