Year: 2008

Mixing business with personality

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in November 2008 ……


I was struck by  one word in Richard Dennison’s presentation at a 2009 conference.

The word is “personality“.


Richard talked about how BT is using social media and how one impact of this is “mixing business and personality” in the corporate world. He feels this is essential. There is no reason to turn into anonymous, homogenous people when we step into the work world each morning. Note he did not say “mixing business and personal”, nor “mixing business life and family life”.

I interpret “mixing business with personality” to mean “bringing your own personality to how you do your job” or “doing your job while being yourself”. What a difference this would make in most organisations if people could do this.

Hurdling organisational barriers – political or project suicide?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in September 2008 ……


I chatted with 2 intranet professionals today: by telephone with an intranet manager in a global organisation headquartered in Europe, and through online chat with a usability consultancy based in Russia.

The more you talk with people around the world, the more you realise things are the same everywhere. (more…)

Wiki Magic, Wiki Panic

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in August 2008 ……


Why magic or panic? Because people react strongly to wikis.

People either love or hate the Wikipedia. Teachers either forbid it for research or encourage their students to contribute to it. “It is forbidden to use the Wikipedia to research your subject.” “Your assignment this month is to contribute to an article in the Wikipedia.” (more…)

The HR edge – joker card in the intranet game

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in July 2008 ……


The HR function is the most variable and least predictable among all the key intranet players. Depending on the organisation, HR may be strategic, may manage knowledge sharing and skills building, or may simply handle administration and pay.

Today I was with 2 different organisations, one a very large global company and the other a very large French company. Both had HR departments that are leading initiatives on their intranets – but in 2 very different ways. (more…)

Regulating collaboration: a comparison

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in June 2008 ……


This post could be sub-titled: “Same tool, clear policies, user training, then let the people go!”

An intranet manager recently asked for advice on how to get people to use the appropriate collaboration tool. In a partial response to the issue, I’d like to share some findings from the 2007 Global Intranet Survey.

The data showed that companies where the intranet is “the way of working today” have a higher degree of regulation on tool choice, give more training and have more usage policies than the other organisations. (more…)

Small non-profits, the right mix of services

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in June 2008 ……


Q: Would a strong social networking functionality have minimal impact because the organization is fairly small?

From a reader: “I work for an international, Boston-based nonprofit organization with about 300 empoyees. We have challenges around internal communication, collaboration & knowledge sharing.
We have started a project to build a new intranet and a major question is: what web 2.0 tools would be truly useful within our specific context? I’m not sure how to address this question. Would a strong social networking functionality have minimal impact because the organization is fairly small?
Is there some sort of matrix that shows the potential benefits of specific enterprise 2.0 tools for organizations of different sizes in different fields?”

A: What you need to do is look at the functionalities your users need.

My response: From what I see on your web site and from my firsthand experience with humanitarian organisations, I imagine you are in the following context. Let me know if I’m right.

  • You have people in the center (Boston) who produce content and offer services to people in the field.
  • The people in the field work under difficult conditions (limited resources, little time to use the intranet).
  • They need information from the center such as news, procedures, ressources, guidelines.
  • They need to share experiences and knowledge horizontally across the field operations.

I would guess that the latter is fairly difficult to achieve.

My intuitive feeling is that your organisation would benefit most from 3 things:

  •  Blogs and/or wikis to make publishing and sharing easy for everyone in the organisation, including the field people who may only have a few minutes a day to contribute news and info.
  • Tagging (free tagging, with a tiny tiny minimum of agreed taxonomy for the whole organisation)
  • RSS feeds and highly personalised portals or spaces on the organisational portal where people can stay up to date easily and quickly on what they feel is relevant.

I’m assuming you have an organisational directory with contact info for all members of the organisation including the field. Hopefully the directory has fields where people fill in more info about themselves.

An overall system where you have (1)fast and easy publishing capacity for everyone, (2) free tagging (linked to the personnel directory) and (3)rss feeds and personalised portal space would be a very powerful “intranet” for an organisation like yours.

With only 300 people, it should not be too hard to get into place assuming you have the connectivity capacity in the field.

Good luck!

Intranet-readiness – 3 stages

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in June 2008 ……


I define “intranet-readiness” as follows: the intranet is ready to support people, the organisation and the business of the organisation. (Post edited 15 April 2010 to reflect current terminology of “stages” which were  previously referred to as “classes”.)

The findings from the 2007 Global Intranet Strategies Survey enabled me to define 3 stages of organisations. (more…)