Meeting the masters

November 30, 2010

I am writing this at the airport after two very inspiring days at the Employee Portal Evolution Masters in Berlin – lots of great input and great people.

Monday night I hosted an informal interactive evening session. The topic on the agenda was the future of intranets, but it quickly turned into a talk about social media – which had been the big underlying theme all day – and how to handle this inside an organisation.

The two major takeaways from the session was that Social Media require some kind of training and that your company culture needs to be ready for openness.

I would like to share one of the suggested approaches with regards to training for you to consider. It is quite eimple and as a beginning you divide the people active on social media into some groups. An example could be:

  1. Designated participants officially representing the company.
  2. Those who mix work and private life in their social media presence.
  3. People who participate privately but may have the odd workrelated contribution.

The first ones obviously require training like any other media representative – you wouldn’t put someone in front of a TV camera without a minimum of media training!

The second and third are the tricky ones. Seen from a risk management point of view, I believe that the ones in the second category should be the main concern. They often know what they are doing and may inadvertently post something that will prove harmful to the company. The third group also pose a risk. but since they mainly use social media privately this risk is smaller.

Everybody agreed that what we have seen in relation to social media is just the tip of the iceberg. One delegate shared a little story about when the phone was introduced in companies. He remembered meetings where it was being discussed whether or not everybody should have a phone or if it was OK with one per department! Nobody questioned that the phone made sense, but how much, and for what, would it be used….. I think it sounds familiar!

I would like to extend a big thank you to all delegates and speakers and if you are interested in learning more from the conference, I can recommend that you head over to Samuel Driessen’s blog where you can read much more.

Among Online Squirrels and Networking Ninjas

November 11, 2010

-Experiences and reflections from the J. Boye 2010 Aarhus Conference.

“Martin, Have you met <insert name>….?” – That must be the sentence I heard the most times at last week’s Conference in Aarhus, and at the same time it describes this year’s experience very well. This was the 3rd time I attended this conference and it is very clear to me that if I have to point at one thing that sets this conference apart from other events that I’ve attended, it must be the big focus on the social/networking dimension. Janus and the rest of the team work tirelessly in facilitating connections between delegates – almost to the extent that, when you leave the conference, it feels like having a new, extended family – if not that, you certainly feel like a “networking ninja” with all the new connections you’ve made.

Eric Karjaluoto started the event off with a keynote about the importance of speaking human – a topic which turned out to be very symptomatic for the tracks I followed during the two days. Speak human, Be honest, Focus on the users, and variations of this was repeated over and over. Personally I find it puzzling that people – we – are still struggling with this dimension of communicating business messages – it shouldn’t be so hard, but I guess it is! Personally, my best reminder to speak human is a drawing from Gapingvoid with the text: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face” – It’s as simple as that!!

I had the pleasure to present a case study at the intranet track on Wednesday with Jane McConnell and Ernst Decsey. Jane McConnell was presenting some of the results of the Global Intranet Trends 2011 report and as always there are plenty of interesting findings here – like this one:

From the Global Intranet Trends 2011 report

The above figure shows how leaders (Organisations where the intranet has become “the way of working” – or “Stage 3 intranets”, if you are familiar with Jane’s work) really are moving ahead. I have compared this with last year’s report and interestingly enough it shows growth in all areas whereas the “others” (or stage 1+2) primarily show development in the “Front Door” area. Could this be a sign that the financial crisis has increased the emphasis on the intranet in organisations who have a well-functioning intranet while development has halted for others? Regardless of the reason, this shows that we still have a vast, unexploited potential here, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a leader or you ‘just’ aspire to be one.

You can read much more about the Global Intranet Trends for 2011 at Jane’s website + you can find out how you can get hold of your own copy.

Thank you to all the other online squirrels who hopefully, like me, gathered enough inspiration to last through the winter. A special thanks to J. Boye team + volunteers for yet another great event. See you in 2011.

How to increase your intranet user satisfaction

November 2, 2010

When I hear about corporate intranets and how they are perceived by the users, it is clear that some do really well while some struggle. Most are somewhat successful and gradually improving which is good. I recently conducted an intranet survey in my company and much to my surprise our intranet was perceived as both ’useful’ and ’important’ while the overall satisfaction was below average. Why was that? I looked through the survey results and it made me think that we had to re-focus. Our challenges were not that people didn’t use it – they did, but seemingly in spite.

I got to think about Herzberg’s two-factor model for motivation where he speaks about hygiene factors and motivator factors and how you can’t create motivation if the hygiene factors aren’t satisfactory. This prompted me to come up with the following three-factor model which I think applies to all intranets since there is a rather big overlap between motivation theory and user satisfaction.

Intranet User Satisfaction - three factor model

User satisfaction on an intranet depends on a number of factors which can be grouped in three groups. You must succeed at the lower levels before you can start working with the next level factors.

Primary factors: Speed, Stability, Consistency, Access
Employees generally have high expectations when it comes to web-based tools and this also applies to the intranet. If they are expected to use eg. an intranet they must not get the perception that it get’s in the way. It must always be available, it should be easy to access, it must be quick, and consistent. By consistent, I refer to the fact that it must be recognisable from one day to the other. Generally people are uncomfortable with change, and of things move around chances are that they get insecure and don’t know what to do.

Let’s turn the primary factors upside down for a minute: If your intranet takes forever to load and you only get in half the times you try, it doesn’t matter if you have the best tools and the most compelling content – people will see the intranet as a nuissance getting in the way of their work.

Secondary factors: Findability, Accuracy, Information Architecture, Tasks
Once you have addressed the primary factors and made them meet the employee’s expectations, you are ready to move on to start working on the intranet itself. The most important thing is that it’s easy to find the things that people need daily – quickly. A proper information architecture and a well functioning search facility is paramount. It doesn’t matter how it looks as long as it gets the job done!

Whether your intranet is based around tasks (which most successful intranet are) or something entirely different, it is also important that the tools and information is accurate and up-to-date. This is something that should be easy to identify in the context of the tool/information and usually the technology behind your intranet can help here.

Again, try to look at it from the opposite perspective: If you have lots of information but people can’t fint it – what’s the point? …and if you have lots of information AND it’s easy to find but everything is from 2005 – what’s the point? I’m sure you get the picture.

Tertiary factors: Graphic design, Personalised content, Participatory Features
Now it’s playtime! If you have succeded with the primary and secondary factors, you should find yourself in a situation where you have an intranet that people like! Now the focus shifts away from avoiding to get in the way to create a more compelling experience for the employees. A nice design is closely linked to the information architecture, but it’s a fact of life that people can put up with a whole lot of ugly as long as they get the job done!

The tertiary factors mentioned here are not a comprehensive, exhausting list – it should be seen as a few examples. The point is that you need to get the basics right before going ahead with the fun, ’modern’, stuff otherwise people still dont get it.

What do you think? Does this make sense? Remember this is about an intranet – not the www...


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