SharePoint

10 differences between an intranet and digital workplace homepage

As intranet managers, from time-to-time we all do it, despite bearing the scars from the last time. We decide to re-launch our intranet homepage. A triumph of optimism over experience. We know we’ll get hate mail from users the day it launches no matter how good it actually is … but we just can’t help ourselves. And so it is now in BT. We’re full speed ahead on developing a new intranet homepage site which will be launched before Christmas.

I won’t bore you with all the gruesome detail, but when the idea was first conceived, it made me think about what needs to be different this time around from what we’ve previously offered up to BT employees. How does the homepage need to be different to support the BT Digital Workplace rather than the BT Intranet?

Knowing that no one reads blog posts anymore unless they are lists of no more than 10 items and include a big image … I offer you my illustrated-10-differences-between-an-intranet-and-digital-workplace-homepage-listicle-blog-post.

Evolution of the DW homepage

  1. My digital workplace homepage needs to be ‘useful to me’ rather than ‘good for me’ – by which I mean I get to decide much of what goes on the page rather than the company feeding me the stuff it thinks is good for me.
  2. The content on my new page needs to be dynamic, driven by my needs.
  3. We all need a bit of corporate news to feed our souls but, more importantly, we need information from our networks to feed our brains.
  4. For this site to work, the content can’t be dominated by one person – I need lots of information from lots of sources.
  5. I love reading, but I get paid to do stuff.
  6. The person charged with managing my new homepage should spend their time hunting out useful sources of information and offering them to me as feeds to which I can subscribe if I so choose.
  7. I choose … that is all!
  8. More people access the internet via smartphone than fixed line … the digital workplace will be no different.
  9. The digital workplace is an ever-changing and flexible ecosystem – my front door into it needs to be too.
  10. Sticking content in little boxes piled on top of one other so I can see them all at once creates a horrible mess and gives me a headache. Layer the content and let me choose the top content card at any given time.

Thanks for reading … now get back to work! 🙂

Gamification 101 – a simple guide to gamification in the enterprise

board gamesAs Christmas comes hurtling over the horizon, many of us will be dusting off the Monopoly and Cluedo in preparation for the arrival of family and friends. It got me thinking about that oft-quoted – actually, over-quoted – thing called gamification. Cited by some as the holy-grail of employee engagement and others as a load of old twaddle (<- I sit somewhere in the middle! 🙂 ), what exactly is it?

So, I raided the internet and stole ideas and information from experts … er … I mean did some research … and, below is my unbiased (<- is that possible?) view of what it is and some simple tips for using it effectively and some things to avoid …

What is it?

Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications, for example, in the workplace … or, put another way, turning ‘work in to play’.

When has it been used for in business?

Gaming has been used in a variety of scenarios in a business context, for example:

  1. When rolling out a new initiative, such as new values or ethics, where you want people to actively engage with information to understand its implications for them as an exercise in shared understanding.
  2. It is used widely in ideation systems.
  3. As part of mass collaborative events to encourage participation.
  4. To help build communities by recognising contributions.
  5. As part of training or learning packages.

Top 6 tips for getting it right:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Start with clear objectives
  3. Understand the three principles which underpin successful games:
    • Autonomy (people can play when they want not when you want them to)
    • Mastery (shouldn’t be too hard and players need to see they are progressing)
    • Purpose (players need to understand why they are playing – what the point is).
  4. Scores aren’t everything – people prefer validation through prestige to simple number scores which can alienate people particularly if a small number of players get way ahead of everyone else on points.
  5. The game should be about the journey and not the end result – players need to enjoy the process of playing.
  6. Make it social – i.e. let people share their progress/successes with colleagues.

The four basic characteristics of gaming are:

  1. Simple, recognizable cues for next actions.
  2. Clear, instant feedback for actions taken.
  3. Easily identifiable markers for ranking and performance.
  4. Streamlined, accessible paths to further achievement.

It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Getting gamification right is harder than it sounds. Gaming is best used to amplify existing behaviours rather than introduce new behaviours, particularly if these feel unnatural to players. Gaming won’t make people do something they don’t want to do (i.e. it has to be a part of something that players already have an underlying, intrinsic interest in doing).

Common pitfalls when setting up gamification include:

    1. Thinking gamification is ‘pointsification’ … i.e. simply allocating points to a set of activities. This will fail very quickly.
    2. Ignoring the multi-generational workplace and different technical skill levels can alienate large numbers of employees.
    3. Intentionally designing for addictive behaviour. If a player knows when to expect a reward based on their actions, this is predictable feedback and acts as a motivator. However, gamification becomes addictive when feedback is not entirely predictable. For example, if a player receives predictable rewards most of the time, but sometimes receives an extra reward for the same action, this encourages the player to repeat this action more to receive the disproportionate reward. Casino fruit machines are a good example of this. You don’t want your game to be addictive!
    4. Gaming for gaming’s sake without a clear purpose.
    5. Ignoring cause and effect. This is not understanding potential unintended consequences. This means that just because you design a process to achieve a particular outcome, you may unintentionally design for a different outcome entirely.
    6. Creating gamification clones – ripping off existing games without understanding the underlying mechanics and principles of gaming mechanics. Gartner believes 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet their business objectives primarily due to poor design.
    7. Creating a game which encourages players to play to win. When winning becomes the key motivation, your game has failed and players will game your system to get to the top of the pile.

Gaming silos

A growing problem with gamification is that every system you buy-in these days has elements of gamification in them. Even SharePoint has some pretty lame badges as part of its community sites set-up. This is a similar problem to social silos where every system also comes with commenting, liking, rating etc. where social activity is locked in to a system and can’t be shared across an entire intranet or easily searched. In my view, it would be much more powerful in both the gamification and social spheres if they were enterprise-wide avoiding duplication left-right-and-centre!

So, there you have it!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a happy, wholesome and fulfilling New Year!

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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!

SO WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?

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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The challenge for internal comms in the social enterprise

I spoke earlier in the week at the Melcrum SharePoint User Forum on the subject of: the challenges facing the internal comms (IC) profession in the social enterprise. I wasn’t able to talk as much about SharePoint as perhaps I was expected to as, quite frankly, we don’t have a lot to show yet … which is another story entirely! 😦

Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the challenges facing the IC profession in a social enterprise. The slide below pretty well sums it up …

Having scoped the challenge, I started thinking about how comms people should respond … something I’ve touched upon before. I decided to write a vision statement for a world in which internal comms is REALLY engaged … a bit old-fashioned maybe, but it helped crystallize my thinking. Anyway, my first bash at it is below … I’d value your thoughts and feedback:

A community of internal comms practitioners embedded into the social fabric of BT as power-networkers influencing the conversations and culture of the organisation to meet its business objectives. A community engaged in communications activities underpinned by social interactivity and conversation to help BT employees arrive at shared understanding of what is expected of them from the communications we create and disseminate.

[PS – my slides from the Melcrum event are available on slideshare]

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