Summary: On April 23/24 2013 Berlin was the place to be for European intranet and enterprise 2.0 professional. From 8am in the morning until 6pm at night participants had the chance to exchange experience. Speakers from various industries shared their best practice and the DOs and DONTs when it comes to evolving the intranet into a digital workplace. In this article I am sharing my key take aways and sincerely hope to meet some of my readers next year. A word of warning: I’ve not cut a long story short – intentionally. Some parts of my recap might seem “common sense” but the level of awareness for the key success factors has experienced a substantial shift. Value creation has moved into the focus of almost all hands-on drivers in the field.
Social Minutes of the conference…
…can be found on Twitter under the #intrel13 hashtag. It’s definitely worth browsing through the almost 1.000 tweets that we’ve produced in the two days.
My personal key take away from INTRANET.Reloaded, Berlin (2013)
- When Communications & IT join big things can happen
- People centricity is not just reflected through “social software” anymore (Or: The social radio and the hidden dream team)
- Cultural change – it’s less of hen and egg than before
- Key asset of the new workplace: relevant content
- The requirements document is not a wish list
1. When Communications & IT join forces big things can happen
The status-quo still seems to be more of a two class society. In some organisations the business and technology folks haves moved closer together. In others there’s still a lot of platform, bells & whistles and “just get it out of the door” thinking. That leaves business professionals frustrated and demotivated when they are either bullied or slowed down by there sous-terrain peers (maybe it’s some kind of reaction on the lack of daylight…). Whenever business and IT decided to work hand in hand on the endeavour towards real business IT results where exciting. In particular the presentation of StoraEnso on the current status of their journey towards a digital workplace was impressive. What I particularly loved (yes…emotion!) was their mantra to
“…make sure that employees simply have clarity on where to go for what piece of information.”
This is one of the “common sense” things. However, to take this as a motivation to merge collaboration and communication initiatives and replace the “old” world with a completely new digital service concept for employees is heart warming. It’s consequent. It’s smart. Here’s what StoraEnso shared as their general advice to the participants of the conference.
(c) StoraEnso 2013 | Presented by Ulrika MacGregor & Charlotte Sperling (@charlottesp)
The same applies to the Sonae’s presentation (Portugal; check the #sonae hashtag combined w/ #intrel13). I strongly recommend to “steel with pride” from their quadrant on driving the digital workplace initiative (http://t.co/mtZq2dpyzf).
(c) Sonae 2013 | Presented by João Piedade (@jp3dro)
2. People centricity is not just reflected through “social software” anymore
Or: The social radio and the hidden dream team
Almost all speakers emphasised the importance of “seeking to understand before seeking to be understood”. Running conceptual pre-studies and making sure that the results of the project will meet actual business needs has been an essential part of the impressive and promising case presentations. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of how need/requirements are evaluated. Talk to anyone who has applied the Xmas approach of how useful wishful thinking of frustrated users eventually is. More to this a little bit later in this article.
In particular Novozymes (Danmark, @frankhatzack) made two very strong points. Their analogy of the new abilities to drive communication and collaboration through social media inspired services with a social radio is just beautiful!
“Following the flow of activities in a company is like listening to a social radio. You have to make sure that you’ve tuned into the right channels and silence the noise.”
This goes hand in hand with the so often used quote of “There is no information overload, just a filter failure” by Clay Shirkey. Using the social radio requires the users to be aware of the general principles and the way one can use the dials to fine tune personal relevance.
Secondly “the hidden dream” concept is something that should be on the agenda of all drivers of innovation/best practice/idea management initiatives. Novozymes figured out that the most powerful ideas came from the “long tail” of users submitting ideas. It’s not the ones with the loudest voice, it’s the ones that rather post less quantity but strive for higher results – and bear in mind that innovation usually involves more than one point of view. To unveil the hidden dream teams is an amazing opportunity that lies within a company’s organisation. New ways of surfacing experts, expertise and experience that derive from socialised business IT definitely helps with this task.
3. Cultural change – it’s less of hen and egg than before
For years change management has been trending in the context of enterprise 2.0 and the future of information work. @frankhatzack from Novozymes made clear: digital doesn’t go well with pure hierarchy. There a general agreement that top management (aka the C-suite) is happy to request and lead change. The employee base is happy to tap into the new opportunities – adoption rate and speed depending on the demographical structure. Middle management however has a proper challenge with their change of role. The more connected the nodes of an organisation are and the more automated informations logistics become the less “controllable” it will be. #FOLC was established as an acronym at the conference this year: Fear Of Loosing Control. All endeavours have to address that fear as much as they have to pick up on potential #FOMO amongst employees: Fear Of Missing Out. Adding new channels and new opportunities requires to make sure that each single employee is able to work in full certainty and clarity that the relevant stuff will find her/him. For StoraEnso that was a key driver to treat intranet and digital workspace as ONE.
What has settled in is the fact that change in work culture and the digital workplace have to come hand in hand. It’s a give and take. Making cultural change the foundation for changes in the digital workplace is like swallowing the elephant in one go. Slicing it up in reasonable steps, prioritising based on value contribution and managing expectations towards the scope of the single steps is the way to go.
4. Key asset of the new workplace: relevant content
Ensuring relevance for the actual user is key in the majority of initiatives. The way to tackle relevance today ranges from very basic pro-active selection of “what I want to see” to the automated delivery of the right piece of information to the user’s door step at the right time.
One key take away of the conference is definitely the issue of managing/creating information assets in a multi-channel world. Skanska (Sweden) for example manages its content for all digital services through one backend. Treating external and internal presence as just a different channel is definitely a smart way to make sure that content is used most effectively.
Pfizer (USA) decided to “harness the ego factor” (@NoraGhitescu) and give people that produce content for their digital channels. They turned their communicators into correspondents and gave them the chance to stand out with by-line and picture. As a result Pfizer was able to create content that attracted so many people that media agencies would be probably more than happy to sell advertising on that inventory.
(c) Pfizer 2013 | Source: https://twitter.com/for_desire_it/status/327449438270414848/photo/1
5. The requirements document is not a wish list
Making sure that the new endeavour will deliver value to individuals as well as the organisation is key. Evaluating requirements and managing expectations in that context is definitely key. At this point I’d like to refer to one of my older posts on motivation. Requirements don’t have to be things people want (or wish). It can as well be something that should be resolved, removed or improved. That angle – it terms of motivation & measurability – is much stronger than just striving towards a vision.
What I definitely have to share is Sonae’s (Portugal) slide on requirements engineering. It actually doesn’t need much explanation…
(c) Sonae 2013 | Presented by João Piedade (@jp3dro) | Source: @DigitalJonathan
World Café on “Managing expectations along the workplace evolution”
I had the opportunity to host a world café session on “managing expectations”. As a framing for all participants (5 rounds in total) I used the following approach:
Seek to understand before seeking to be understood
(Stephen R. Covey)
Use this paradigm as the motivation to understand where you are today in order to understand how to phase out the roadmap to the vision of the future workspace (the reloaded intranet).
Find your current position on either or or both following models for distinguishing the status/evolutionary phase of a workspace:
#1 Workspace Maturity Model
(c) Infocentric Research AG | Presented by Stephan Schillerwein (@IntranetMatters) as part of the Digital Workplace Framework
#2 People Relationship Model (w/t the thought leadership stage)
(c) Philipp Rosenthal 2013 (@for_desire_it)
After the framing followed the discussion based on how the participants of the world café table positioned themselves in the model and shared their insights on how expectations were managed on the way to the current status and with regards to the future steps.
Key take away of the discussion around “how to manage expectations along the evolution of a digital workplace”
- It’s about people. Evangelist or Ambassador programs are essential but both have to be connected to the real steps that are taken. Just preaching the vision won’t be enough to make people really adapt. Sometimes some “nudging” towards the new opportunities might be required.
- Management has to be committed to the change and support it by being a prime example.
- To get commitment it’s necessary to have role based value proportion for “what’s in for me” for e.g. roles like CEO, CIO, HR, program managers, production managers, etc…
- Top Management might require a value proposition that resonates with their abstraction of the business in Excel and ERP. Middle Management needs a value proposition that avoids #FOLC. The employee base has to be ensured that #FOMO is unnecessary and that access to the relevant content will actually improve.
- Taking into account blue collar work is essential for companies that produce more than just paper. However, it should not stop initiatives because (broadly) involving blue collar roles will be a challenge for almost all companies.
- Do NOT ask people what the want. Ask them “What’s preventing you from being excellent?”.
- Argue the endeavour and its scope based on challenges that will be solved and QuickWins that derive from new opportunities. Do NOT argue along bells & whistles of digital services.
- Easy things first: create tangible results quickly!
INTRANET.Reloaded: Inspired not just by the content
At this stage I want to share a way the organisers of the conference decided to create “minutes” of the conference. It was a live sketching done by an incredible illustration artist. I can strongly recommend this to anyone who’s intending to produce a documentation alongside a larger event…
The rights to all content shown in pictures of slides of the conferences lie with the original/presenting author(s) and the represented company.