intranet management

Enough about the technology!

As intranet managers and communicators, we fought long and hard for many years to become technology agnostic and rather than talk in terms of specific technologies we fought to talk in terms of user requirements and user/business needs. Amazingly, we won!


Today, the world seems only to be talking about technology (99% about SharePoint) and we’ve ditched our agnosticism. While I understand that for many of us SharePoint IS the solution we are having to digest, we should still be talking about user needs and not technical functionality – even if we know we might have to compromise in some instances.

By focusing on the technology we are giving carte blanche to IT teams to present functionality/capabilities to us based around technical paths of least resistance for them and their platforms, rather than testing the technology to its full extent to meet business needs. As a result, conversations are almost entirely focussed around what the technology can do and not want the business needs.

PLEASE … before it’s too late … enough about the technology!

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Thoughts on SharePoint governance

Nothing seems to attract attention more these days to a blog post than sticking the words SharePoint and governance in the title … without wishing to jump on the bandwagon – actually, jumping firmly on the bandwagon with a double backwards flip and triple salco thrown in – here are my thoughts to add to the cascade of information on the subject.

[To be honest, what follows is not specific to SharePoint but you’ve got to grab attention where you can! 🙂 ]

Anyway … it seems to me that when people talk about intranet governance they seem to view the intranet as a single amorphous blob which needs to be governed (read controlled) in one way. To me, this misses a whole spectrum of nuances around user needs and normally results in an overly restrictive governance regime designed for top-end, formal content being imposed across all content types and all user needs (see previous posts on the subject of differing content types: Changing nature of intranet content; and Content types should complement not compete).

To take account of different content types and user needs, you really need different governance models running in parallel with differing levels of control along a spectrum – a kind of controlometer if you like … at one end: total control; and at the other: the opposite of total control … whatever that is … anarchy; chaos; trust – you choose!

So, below is an attempt to illustrate the above in diagrammatic form.

As an aside, there’s one content type I’ve listed which might surprise people – the under-web. It strikes me that in the drive for control of intranet content over the last few years – fuelled by sound business reasons – we’ve stifled innovation and creativity and decoupled experimentation from core intranet platforms driving it under desks where it is extremely difficult to benefit from the great things which go on in these spaces. We should always legislate for experimentation in our governance models.

A final point, content types shouldn’t be kept apart in a kind of quarantine from each other … there should be exposure and cross fertilisation of different content types both to the left and right of the spectrum to generate valuable context.

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Intranet content types should complement not compete

The Knight's Tale,  Dame Elisabeth Frink

The language used these days to describe intranet content types gives the distinct impression that there’s something inherently good and evil about content lurking in the bowels of intranets.

The white knight of social content is on a bloody crusade to drive the dark and evil formal/traditional content into extinction … having done this, the sparkling flag of the newly founded democratic kingdom of Social Intranet will be run up the flagpole to rapturous cheering from the freshly freed wage slaves … blah … blah.

This is, of course, total tosh …

While I’ve posted previously about the fact that I think all content should have a collaborative component, that is not the same as saying all content should be social. Organisations need formally written and managed content as much as they also need social content to complement it and provide context.

Clearly the balance has been far too much in favour of formal content until recently. We just need to redress that balance rather than throw away the baby with the bath water, slashing and burning all the hard learned lessons and knowledge we’ve accumulated over many years of intranet management experience.

That’s why I balk at the term social intranet which feels to me as unbalanced as old-fashioned intranets are. Ultimately, an intranet must support the business objectives of an organisation and support employees in doing their jobs and feeling an integral part of the company for which they work – it should enable every employee to make a difference.

It won’t do that with just formal/traditional content … and it certainly won’t do that with just social content.

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