Business & Value, Guidance & How To

Intranet is a process, one step ahead of the organization

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in August 2010 ……


The intranet is a process and should be one step ahead of the organization. This is a phrase I used several years ago and it is taking on new meaning these days.

Why just one step ahead?

The intranet can enable new ways of working but it cannot create them.

I have two examples from recent client engagements:

  1. A case where new business lines are being implemented and intended to gradually replace the current company-based organization.
  2. A second case where senior management behavior is in conflict with the global processes around which collaboration spaces are being built.

New (theoretical) business lines in a global enterprise

The dilemma: An enterprise in the process of “going global” is re-organizing into 5 new business lines. The internal discussion for the new enterprise intranet is: Should our global navigation bar be defined with direct paths to individual companies (previous and current organization) or should we take advantage of doing a new intranet and make the primary navigation based on business lines?

My view: It is essential to provide both. In a large, global organization, the business lines will take shape at different speeds. Content will be migrated progressively. The new enterprise intranet must “lead” people in the direction of the business lines but not push them off the edge of the map if their business line-based content is not yet ready (read: revised, cleaned up, tagged).

Behavior in contradiction with the new business processes

The dilemma: A global organization is currently defining global processes. This involves getting the sales and marketing teams to share experiences and lessons learned across the enterprise. This type of sharing has taken place within the divisions in the past, but not across the divisions. Even within the divisions, it has been limited to email and personal contacts. Today, the new collaborative spaces set up for global sharing are not being used.

My view: It quickly became obvious after a few questions that internal recognition and rewards were based on individual performance.  The global marketing director made a keynote speech every year where the best performers were recognized, and the division with the most winners became the “division of the year”. In this case, the global collaborative spaces were light years ahead of the organization!

Is your intranet one step ahead of your organization?