Tag Archives: engagement

What is the right governance for a digital workplace?

My recent posts ‘What exactly is a digital workplace?‘ and ‘What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?‘ generated some good discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn.  I want to stay with the digital workplace theme for my last post of 2015 and bring in how you manage it.

What is the right governance model for a digital workplace?  We know that a digital workplace is different from an intranet, even an advanced intranet, so how does that affect the way it is managed?

Maybe even more importantly is how you manage the transformation from an intranet to a digital workplace so you gain all the benefits and none of the drawbacks as it happens.

Who develops and implements the strategy?

Digital workplace principles need to be put into your own organisational context.  A group of senior stakeholders, representing key business areas and functions across the organisation, can steer your digital workplace strategy.  This enables a fuller, more complete picture of what is needed, the right direction to set, and who should lead, to be agreed and accepted.

What should everyone expect from a digital workplace?

Everyone should gain from a digital workplace although they will have different expectations depending on their roles and responsibilities.  This can vary from being more productive because all the applications and information are now accessible through to finding news and discussions with people who can help you solve work problems online.

Being able to connect whenever and wherever you need to from whatever device you have also reduces stress, avoids delays and improve your quality of working life.

What standards are needed for a digital workplace?

A governance framework is needed with publishing standards forming a key part.  Standards are needed for:

  • Legal requirements: accessibility, personal information available
  • Business requirements: usability, design, navigation, findability, ownership and information retention
  • Employee needs: terms and conditions that encourage people to want to work in a digital workplace
  • Security needs: confidential information protected, permissions model adopted
  • Technical support: platform functionality, server support, agreed levels of service.

Gaining confidence working in a digital workplace

Anyone who plans to work remotely, especially if they are the first person in that team, wants to have the same or better experience than where they currently work.  You gain confidence when the information and tools you need for work are always available to use.  You feel confident that your personal information is there for you (and only you) to use still.  You don’t feel any discrimination because you are working remotely from your manager, team, customers and other employees.

Only through consistently good experiences like this will it happen.

More informationBook cover - Digital success or digital disasters

For more information on how to develop the right strategy or governance framework I offer some great, practical advice, to help you in my book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  You can try it first by reading the introductory chapter to find out more.

Do your intranet and internal comms approaches clash?

Whatever the strategy for your intranet is, it needs to align with your organisation’s overall strategy.  It must clearly show how it supports and will help your organisation to deliver its strategic priorities.

You should also consider how it aligns with other strategies that support different business areas and functions.  It is important to know the direction they are taking and if they support or conflict with your intranet strategy.  One of the most common business functions relevant to your strategy and plans will be Internal Communications.

In some cases, the intranet strategy is part of the internal communications strategy. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, your intranet is more than a communications tool.  It has a much wider strategic role that includes operational information, business processes and tools to share knowledge.

There is normally agreement and minimal conflict between each strategy.  However, there are two areas with the highest risk of conflict between the approaches for the Intranet and Internal Comms.


Sometimes Internal Comms’ focus on news to the virtual exclusion of any other information.  There are probably several places on the intranet where people read the news: corporate homepage, each business area and function site, senior leader’s pages, etc., as well as news feeds or discussion groups.

But they don’t want to find the same news article or angle on that news wherever and whenever they go to these sites.  When people reach a saturation point they will be turned off by the amount of news that is the same.  People feel bombarded by news and will switch off rather than feel engaged and interested.

I have not found one survey that showed reading the news as the most effective use of an intranet in helping people with their work.

You need to find the right balance so people see the right amount of news in the right places at the right times.  Less is more.  Make sure the news is only in specific places and relevant to each audience.


The other area of concern is the amount of space news takes up on your corporate intranet portal or Homepage compared with business tools, operational information and ways to share ideas and problems.  Too often I find a mismatch.

The majority of people emphasise how important business tools, information and sharing are but the majority of space is taken up with news, particularly images.  While not directly a strategic or governance issue, it does contribute to the overall user experience if the Homepage does not meet people’s needs.

Ultimately, this can affect people’s overall effectiveness and productivity.  That risks a conflict with Internal Comms narrower approach to the intranet as a good communications tool rather than it being a great business tool as well.

Get the balance right so you provide what people need.  Test out with people who use the Homepage to find out what helps them with their work, then provide it.  That will probably be less news than exists but will likely mean the remaining news will be viewed more because it matches people’s needs.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid this conflict sinister underwebs 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 available.

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!

For new intranets it is day 100, not day 1, that is important

With every intranet I have helped to create, encouraging people to be more effective and improve their productivity, two things have been at the forefront of my mind.  You need to:

  1. Be clear who is responsible for the content, design and structure of it.
  2. Have a governance framework that supports stakeholders, partners and publishers.

While it is vital you have a big impact when you launch a new intranet, it is not just about creating a great design on day 1.  It is the ongoing need to appeal to people to continue using it.  Content and applications that people need are, of course, helpful but having good governance is the only way to make sure the benefits of day 1 continue consistently through to day 100 and onwards during the lifetime of your intranet.

After nearly 20 years working with intranets, I appreciate how important it is to have a governance framework that:

  1. Keeps your strategy moving in the right direction
  2. Sets out who is responsible for managing it
  3. Matches publishing standards with business requirements
  4. Supports content owners and editors

These can be the crucial factors that help your new intranet.  Quicker adoption, increased usage and higher satisfaction are all achieveable if you take the right approach with governance.

I find these factors encourage people using your intranet to be more effective and improve their productivity, bringing greater benefits to your organisation.  It helps your stakeholders to see how your intranet can be a critical business tool that supports their key priorities!

I agree the digital revolution is cultural, not technological, and….

In Gerry McGovern’s latest post he says ‘Digital transformation is cultural transformation first and foremost. Some time ago, I dealt with an organization that had just installed collaborative software. The problem was that the employees saw no benefit in collaborating. Surprise, surprise, collaboration didn’t happen. Collaboration, first and foremost, is a cultural thing, not a technological thing.’

While I agree with Gerry as far as he goes, I also believe the type of governance deployed for collaborative content can be a major barrier to people adopting these tools.  Too often the governance used for accredited content e.g. policies and news articles, that are official and factual is also tried (and fails) for collaborative content.

A more ‘light touch’ form of governance is needed to remove the barriers that prevent people wanting to share their ideas or offer suggestions that may help someone with a work problem.  Here are some examples of what I mean:

  1. Posting on a blog or contributing to a discussion group should not need you to ask for permission before you start.  It should be ‘on demand’ so there is no delay between when someone needs to use a collaboration tool and being  able to.  Often the need is urgent and passes quickly so any barrier preventing its use could mean the content is lost forever.
  2. You should not need formal training before you use the collaboration tool.  A) the tool should be so easy to use it isn’t needed and B) understanding how to comply with the publishing standards such as ownership and content review dates shouldn’t be required.
  3. Usability and design shouldn’t be something you need to bother with.  The important thing is your content.  Make sure the template you use has the right functionality that people can just start using and understand easily.
  4. Adapt and embed as many of your publishing standards that are relevant to collaboration into the templates e.g. navigation menus, field for contributor to enter their personal details.

Taking this approach shows how the culture has changed from a ‘command and control’ view of governance many years ago for a limited amount of corporate content.  Now, many people can use a wide range of collaboration tools to publish their views and opinions and be comfortable with the experience and knowledge that the content is managed appropriately.

The governance adopted fits the cultural revolution and helps, not hinders, it.  Long may that continue!

Developing your Intranet Manager career: it’s all about partnerships

I have written a guest post for ClearBox Consulting on the need to invest at least as much time connecting with your stakeholders as identifying business requirements for technology.

In January, I wrote that intranets are transforming into digital workplaces.  As your intranet transforms into a digital workplace so the people you need to work with will expand and change.  That will involve you investing time building relationships with new and existing senior managers. They will be your stakeholders who will be at the top of your governance hierarchy.

Read more about how getting that balance right will be a giant step forward to likely success.