The social intranet journey

Last week I attended a Webinar organised by Interact Intranet about Social intranets and how increasingly organisations are looking at how they encourage their employees to use collaborative tools as part of their role.

This was a very interesting Webinar and one of the key things I took from it was that in most circumstances you shouldn't talk about collaboration but rather about actions or tasks, as individuals will be able to relate to these more easily then collaboration. Another way of looking at this is to think about collaboration being the objective not the activity. Any objective needs a focus and in the case of collaboration or social intranets, this should be what people need to do aka a task or activity.

Fear is another issue when people start to talk about collaboration. Not just from an organisations perspective but also the user. Fear can take many forms and could potentially include any of the following:
  • What will users talk about?
  • What if users don't use the tools?
  • What if I do it wrong?
  • Should I be working?
Fear is something that should be approached early on as it can be a huge impediment to encouraging collaborative working within an organisation. Another impediment is where content and collaborative tools aren't integrated within the same platform. Having separate sites, where individuals have to logon with a different username or password will become a barrier to usage. Where possible collaborative tools should be integrated tightly with any existing content to ensure individuals have a seamless and more natural experience.

What should the collaboration journey look like?

In the final part of the webinar we were asked to think about what the collaboration journey should look like. One of the first thing to do is to break the journey down into small steps or bites. So an initial first step might be to encourage users to complete their intranet profiles or add a status update.

The next step is to focus on the problems within the business, what problems could be solved using collaborative tools. The last two steps were to be realistic about what you're trying to achieve and to keep trying, Rome wasn't built in a day and encouraging individuals within your organisation isn't going to happen overnight. Keep this in mind at all times and where possible involve other people so you're not the sole advocate.

If you do all of these things then you're well on the road to a successful social intranet. Ignore any of the factors, Fear, impediments etc then you face a long uphill struggle.