As I recently have been afforded the opportunity to help my enterprise improve our intranet, I've decided to chronicle this effort in a series of articles over the course of the journey. Before I begin, a little context.
My enterprise just completed a software upgrade of its SharePoint infrastructure to the latest version, but has not had a significant design upgrade in more than 7 years. There is a consensus that the intranet does not meet the needs of the employee population within a dynamically changing environment. There has been several years of frustration regarding getting the financial, Information Technology (IT) and design resources necessary for making any significant improvement to the experience.
Journal Entry: Developing a Space For Listening
Within the first few days of being asked to be my company's IT owner of the intranet platform, I visited informally with the business owner of the intranet; the Director of Internal Communications. Internal Communications is within the Marketing department and has a robust team of content developers with a wide array of experience in various different forms of media. The director is pleasant with me, and is also somewhat guarded as IT has not, to this point, provided a partner capable of doing anything more than sustaining the status quo.
I spend some time reassuring the business owner that I'm not your typical IT guy by sharing a couple of different perspectives. First I explain that even though I am the IT owner of the SharePoint platform, I have no vested interest in keeping SharePoint around if it does not meet our needs and that my overall orientation towards providing IT support for her efforts come from the idea that in a successful, but resource constrained .com company, design and development staff has historically been, and should be, more focused on revenue generating activities. Rather than try to force our way through a project prioritization and governance process, I would prefer to acknowledge the basic fact that IT is not in the position to provide the resources, expertise and support necessary to reinvigorate the intranet as we might envision it.
With the knowledge that continuing to hitch the fate of the intranet to the ability to get IT and design headcount is forever relegating it to second-class status, I recommend changing our strategy, our tactics and the overall conversation surrounding getting a serious effort off the ground.
Journal Entry: Changing the Conversation
After the realization that going through the official prioritization process would not bring us to the promised land, the available paths forward narrow to the more qualitative oriented. We decide to chart our course using inspiration and vision as our guiding stars and go to the powers that be with a new message grounded in provocative truth and inspiring possibility.