Global & Local, Governance & Process, Strategy & Decision-making

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.

Some Russian intranet managers have gotten involved with the Survey this year, and according to my translated version (thanks Babelfish!) have the same challenges as European, North-America and Australia-Pacific region intranet managers.

The global intranet manager (not a client of mine) expressed exactly the same challenges as the client I worked with last week. He’s using a new approach to governance that is more user-centric than organisational after finding that the latter was ineffective.

We all know the drill when a Steering Committee is set up for a new enterprise intranet or portal project: get representatives from all the divisions and functions on board. In some cases it’s political suicide not to do that. But, it can be project-suicide if you do that and only that.

In the case I worked on last week, we decided to “respect the organisation” at the top level of the decision-making governance, but to ensure that all the “real decisions” were developed and decided by theme-based, often cross-organisational workgroups.

Whatever you decide, you’ve got to find a way to break the organisational barriers.

I like to quote Dag Hammarskjöld (Secretary General of the UN from 1953 to 1961) who said when speaking about the mission of the UN:

“I have no doubt that 40 years from now we shall be engaged in the same pursuit. How could we expect otherwise? World organization is still a new adventure in human history.”

I transform into…

Global intranets are still a new adventure in organizational history and organizations have a ways to go before they are fully understood and effectively used.”