Digital Workplace Leader Ken Goodlad

Over the past 14 years, Ken Goodlad has seen digital tools shift from playing a supporting role in the workplace to becoming integral to an organization’s success with both its employees and the people they serve.

The move to digital-first is particularly important for somewhere like Scottish Government because we should be adapting how we engage with the Scottish public to match their preference for digital,” he said. A country that’s home to 5.4 million citizens, Scotland is part of the U.K. and has its own government.

Goodlad is currently digital workplace coordinator for the Scottish Government. He helps steer the government’s workplace strategy including its intranet, Saltire, which is named for the Scottish flag. Saltire is the intranet for the entire Scottish Government, seven executive agencies and several Scottish public sector organizations.

Understanding an Organization’s Diversity

Goodlad joined the Scottish Government a couple of years after graduating from Edinburgh University with a degree in computer science as a stopgap while figuring out a longer-term career plan. “I applied thinking I’d give it a go and that was 14 years ago!” he said.

Since 2003, Goodlad has worked across Scottish Government, in roles ranging from managing digital improvement programs to drafting European and domestic policy, alongside corporate governance, strategy and communications.

“That wider understanding of the diversity of the organization is really useful when trying to navigate your way through a whole-organization change program, such as the transition to a digital workplace,” he said.

Goodlad will be speaking at CMSWire and Digital Workplace Group’s Digital Workplace Experience taking place June 18 to 20 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago. He will give a presentation on June 20 titled, “Reacting to an Engaged Digital Society.” 

We spoke with Goodlad to get his take on encouraging employee adoption of digital tools and key intranet metrics. He also shared insights the Scottish Government has gained and then applied to the ongoing development of its Saltire brand.

Overcome Users’ Reluctance to Change

CMSWire: Why was it important to launch the Saltire intranet as a minimum viable product (MVP) with a process of continual improvement?

Goodlad: People are naturally reluctant to change and that’s the same in any organization. Our previous intranet had its issues, but people adapted and, over time, found ways to make it work for them. Most suggestions to replace that intranet were met with fear and worry that people couldn’t survive without it.

Minimal disruption and investing in the time to drill down into the needs of any new intranet were therefore high on the priority list when we started the project. That’s why we spent almost a year doing workshops, focus groups, surveys to undertake user needs analysis and to prioritize the tasks our users were looking for from an intranet.

We used all that research to build an alpha prototype. People got their hands on it and we listened to what they thought. That feedback introduced a number of changes and some tweaking of priorities and, in February 2017, we rolled out our open beta. We were in beta for some nine months, up until December 2017 when the old Saltire was finally decommissioned.

We intentionally took our time so that everyone who wanted to have their say had the chance to do so. People could see changes happening because of their interaction with the project and that, for many, was what made them believe in change for the better.

CMSWire: During the project, what did you discover which helped the new Saltire successfully meet the varied needs of departments and users?

Goodlad: With very little access control, the old intranet had got to a point where we didn’t know with any great confidence who used it for what purposes. It turned out many people relied on information and documents they were storing in little sections of Saltire unbeknown to anyone else.

The switch over to the beta, which introduced a redirect from the old intranet homepage, was the point at which everything came out of the woodwork, as we knew it would, because it became real for a lot of people.

Much of our focus on the nine months that followed was on recurring rounds of user needs analysis to identify what people really needed on the intranet or where a better alternative platform would suit.

Our intranet audience base is hugely diverse and therefore it was important to introduce an ability to customize Saltire to fit different needs. That’s why, for example, the Saltire homepage is comprised of a number of widgets that can be switched on or off by the user. This gives staff a choice about what information and tools they find most useful to have on their own homepage.

Agencies can also choose to have their own news feed, branding and agency-specific information. Additionally, we’ve introduced team sites which give teams their own space to collaborate or share information which would otherwise be of little value to the rest of the organization.

CMSWire: What are the underlying technologies you’re using to build the digital workplace for the Scottish government?

Goodlad: Saltire has SharePoint 2013 and SQL Server at its core, two well-established technologies that have been around for a while and are heavily used across the Scottish Government estate.

Sometimes it’s about making the initial transition to a digital workplace as easy for people as you can, and that includes support teams who have vast experience of managing your current digital estate.

We’ve been using Yammer as an organization since 2009. It’s not a requirement to join Yammer, but we’re seeing healthy year-on-year growth in the number of people signing up as well as a positive trend in our engagement index.

CMSWire: How do you encourage employees to use new digital tools and to become confident and active participants on an enterprise social network?

Goodlad: Alongside the introduction of new technologies, we invested in various interventions to encourage people to work in a more digital way. One of those was a reverse-mentoring program called Digital-Friends. This has been a hugely successful way of encouraging mostly senior people in the organization to be more digital. They often recognize the importance of digital working, but haven’t yet had the time to fully embrace it.

What we do is pair them up with another member of staff, usually at a junior level and often someone in our graduate scheme or modern apprenticeship program, who helps them make just one or two changes to how they work. Often this is around their use of social media, be it externally or internally via Yammer, and the ‘mentor’ in return gets the opportunity to learn from the experience of a senior colleague. It’s a fantastic program for all involved.

CMSWire: What’s the next phase of your digital workplace transformation?

Goodlad: We’re still early on in our digital workplace journey and making small changes to test the water. Next month we’ll be launching our biggest new tool to date, a new case handling platform for over 10,000 staff. This will be a big test of how we can maintain consistency and standards across different projects with different owners and suppliers.

It’s the first corporate tool that works seamlessly inside Saltire. The idea being that, for the first time, users will see that notion of a seamless digital workplace where you won’t be aware you’re using a multitude of different systems behind the scenes to carry out a task.

We’ll get that out of the way and into a continuous improvement model and then it’ll be a matter of looking at what to do about the next priority set of user needs!

CMSWire: What do you think are the most important metrics for organizations to monitor in regard to intranet success and usage? What key improvements in employee productivity and other efficiencies have you seen so far?

Goodlad: User satisfaction, engagement index and confidence, are for us, the holy grail. If people have a positive experience and can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, then job well done.

Engagement is so important because it demonstrates a genuine commitment to better understanding the needs of users. We’ve always been about engaging with colleagues to identify or improve user need, or to generate new ideas. We’ve made it easy for people to ask a question, make a suggestion or highlight a bug.

Everyone who contacts us gets a response and their idea added to the ideas board for collective prioritization. People are really engaging with Saltire. They want to suggest new features, they want to be involved in user testing and this is what it’s all about when we talk about user-driven design. This is great, however it means we no longer have one ideas board, we have three!

Confidence is another metric we’re using to evaluate digital transformation. Confidence to try new ways of working, to work-out-loud or in a more collaborative way. Our Digital-Friends program is all about increasing confidence to use the tools already available.

Likewise, our Digital Masterclass series invites experts from other fields to come and show how they use and benefit from digital working, often through the sharing of practical steps to take your first steps into the unknown.

CMSWire: Originally from Aberdeen, you grew up in Turkey, South Korea and Taiwan before returning to Scotland. Are there similarities between adjusting to a new home and what employees undergo when adopting new DW tools?

Goodlad: The uncertainty or not knowing I think is comparable to what we’re trying to do with the digital workplace. People react in different ways; some love the excitement change brings, others are anxious. Both are very natural and human reactions to change. The important thing for us as we were designing the digital workplace program was recognizing that people respond to change differently.

We were very conscious we’d see each type of behavior exhibited as we began our transformation journey. That’s why we spent a lot of time in stakeholder-mapping mode to design our approach to behavior change and the interventions that would work best for different people.

Learn more about the Digital Workplace Experience here.