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IntraTeam Intranet Conference 2015 – Day 2

ClearBox Consulting > Conference  > IntraTeam Intranet Conference 2015 – Day 2

IntraTeam Intranet Conference 2015 – Day 2

Live blogging from the IntraTeam Event 2015 in Copenhagen. See also Day 1.

The Organisation as a Loosely Coupled Network – David Snowden


“If you don’t change the language you use, you don’t change the way you think.”

David talked about his Cynefin framework (and children’s parties, of course). In complex situations, you need to work within the environment and work with feedback loops; you can’t meaningfully analyse it up-front. ERP systems over-stabilise the system, making it too expensive to change things. So while they start off efficient, they can’t adapt to things changing. In the Cynefin framework, this is the shift from Complicated to Obvious.

Cynefin as of 1st June 2014

Cynefin as of 1st June 2014 by @snowded

We’re much more likely to remember failures than success; this is what people naturally share around the water cooler. We should build worst practice databases not best practice ones (see, for example, 10 Worst Practices for Intranets).

“The role of technology is to augment human intelligence. We have focussed too much on replacing people instead.”

The future will be distributed with weak ties; loosely coupled. Which makes fast feedback loops critical.

David argues that intranets will be gone in 5 years because we’re moving to a world of apps, not central intranet systems. I suspect most people at the conference would agree with this, give or take a few years on the timescale.

Description opens up more possibilities than evaluation. For example, ask people “What would you tell a friend about working for our company?” rather than “Rate your manager on a scale of 0-10”. The future is then modelled as “What kinds of stories would we like more of?”.


The 5 Rs of Social Learning Applied to an Intranet – Patrik Bergman


1. Learning is part of work, not separate from it

2. Learning mostly happens on the job and socially, not formally (the 70:20:10 model)

3. You can’t force people

4. Include the 10% formal learning in your intranet

5. Measure business improvements, worry less about course completion metrics.

Social systems typically see a low ratio of creators-commentors-lurkers. This is called participation inequality (sometimes mis-described as a 1-9-90 ‘rule’). How can you overcome participation inequality? You can’t. But you can equalise the inequality by, for example, making it easier to contribute, or letting people edit something rather than creating from scratch.


Confessions of a Mature Community – Karen Gettman


How do you keep communities fresh, four years in? Pearson’s intranet is called Neo, based on Jive. Just launched external communities to work with third parties. CEO is good about reaching out to people via blogs. Recently their annual summit has been opened up; it used to be just the top 100 behind closed doors. Now done via live streaming and ‘roving reporters’ submitting videos taken during the event. Pearson Gamification

There’s good evidence that Neo has cut down on duplicate work.

Pearson have taken a gamification approach (with Bunchball) to learning, with badges earned for on-boarding completion etc. People are quite competitive about winning the badges.

There’s an Neo Evangelist group composed of advocates. Over time the role changed, once the engagement was in place; tt evolved into a Champions Group where it’s more about learning from each other. Initially there were several non-work groups. These have largely gone, but they were good to get people used to the tool.

Collecting success stories to prove value is important. Pearson ran a campaign called ‘Neo Hero’ where people talked about superhero community ‘powers’. To win a (physical) badge, you had to submit a good story.


Building a collaborative mindset – Marie Mau Refsgaard

Schneider Electric’s social intranet is called Spice. A survey revealed that Schneider Electric’s employees were spending three days a year searching for information, so they were keen to address this.

To raise awareness, Marie spent a lot of time getting Spice on to the agenda of management team meetings and delivering 1-1 training with the management teams. They now have a forum of 70 managers that get lots of help and guidance with a dedicated, private group on Spice. Getting managers on board first was important in legitimising Spice as a place to spend time. Today, SE’s CEO is enthusiastic about Spice and regularly microblogs on it.

The role of ‘Collaboration Leader’ is to show (not tell) how collaboration can improve people’s working life. Marie is the Collaboration Leader for Denmark and has trained over 300 employees online and in-person. This leads to a real peak in activity within the Danish groups. Beyond this, every location has a local champion too.

One issue is that as people get used to the system, they seem to be getting more passive – likes and reads rather than contributions. Small interventions help develop skills, for example Marie ran a selfie competition to get people used to posting and using #tags.


The Importance of Why – Samuel Driessen

Unfortunately I was in another stream so missed this talk (sorry @driessen) but from the tweets it seemed to go down very well. Samuel’s slides are on slideshare.


Trends & Tips for your Intranet Promotion video – Ellen van Aken


Almost incidentally, Ellen has become the ‘video lady’ owing to her extensive curation of intranet launch videos.

The videos reflect the changing perception of intranets:

  • From newsletter to interactive, multi-purpose platform (even if ‘One stop shop’ gets over-used)
  • From ‘space’ to ‘connect’ (i.e. far fewer Star Wars soundtracks)
  • There’s a focus on 24/7, one version of the truth, finding expertise and colleagues
  • Still very few mobile-specific examples
  • ‘Intranet’ is still used rather than ‘digital workplace’
  • There still seem to be far too many logins!
  • Since 2014, simplification has been a trend of intranet re-launches.

Some Tips

  • Try to address specific organisational goals or issues
  • Be clear if it is a teaser (short) or demo (longer)
  • Consider having a sponsor talking head shot or avatar (tends to go with serious/humour split).

Video highlights include:

Leroy Merlin



Driving Business Value at Thomson Reuters – Audrey Scarff


Thomson Reuter’s intranet is called The Hub and is based on Jive. They aim for an ‘integrated digital ecosystem’. They want it to bring everybody together as one company, bridging down silos and sharing ideas. Most recently, attention has been on alignment with external social activity on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook as part of an employer brand/employee ambassador programme.

To employees The Hub is positioned as a ‘new way of working’. The value comes from things like crowd-sourcing to improve business processes. For example, they asked how their travel policy could improve compliance and reduce costs. They allocated points and badges to people who complied with the booking process. Hotel room costs were reduced by 9%, and company-wide travel expenses fell 30%.

Thomson Reuter’s participation rates are 4x those of Jive’s baseline.


Considering SharePoint in the Cloud? – Luke Mepham

@lukemepham from Aviva

Luke began with a car analogy: you can hire a taxi, it’s flexible, as-needed, and takes fewer skills to get from A-B. But you can’t customise it (that’s vandalism), and if you use it every day it gets expensive. A bus would be cheaper, but you will have to share with others and it may not go exactly where you want to be.

When it comes to SharePoint, the cloud isn’t just about letting someone else run the technology (e.g. hosting). You’re buying a whole service. Office 365 brings an additional benefit of already being outside the firewall, which simplifies many mobility/access problems.

Aviva began pre-Office 365 with BPOS. This was like the taxi; it wasn’t shared and they could make some customisations [um, or maybe like a lease car, Luke?].

Three Lessons about Office 365

  1. Customisation – it used to be that you could configure but not customise unless you were the only tenant. In practice Microsoft protected the service so closely that none of the customisations could be applied. In retrospect the stability of the service probably does matter more. In SharePoint 2013 you can do many customisations, so long as it runs on another server (CAM) and SharePoint can pull the service in (but then you lose some of the cost / speed benefits).
  2. Upgrades – O365 offers ‘Evergreen licensing’ – you always get the latest version. This sounds great, but supporting it is painful. For example, minimum browser requirements will change, and Microsoft only gives a window when the upgrade will happen, but doesn’t give the option not to upgrade. Minimum PC requirements are also pretty high for some company hardware standards.
  3. Security – A common objection. O365 is ‘amazingly secure’, probably more secure than many mid-size business’s own server set-up. In legal terms, the EU Safe Harbor agreement meets most company requirements. Aviva’s two-factor security measures were very tight, to the extent that they made mobile use impractical.

Edge cases like using iPads for the Execs to sign off documents don’t make sense in O365. Even though SharePoint can do it in theory, the effort makes it not worthwhile compared to buying a dedicated niche product.

 Is the cloud inevitable?

Probably. There’ll be a new version of SharePoint server, but Microsoft are now pushing for a hybrid model at least, with a first step onto using cloud. Yammer, for example, is only cloud-based and SharePoint’s on-premises equivalent will be removed.

A trade-off with O365 is that you get good integration with other elements of Microsoft’s suite – SharePoint, Lync, Exchange, Delve etc. But the price is that integrating with your other, non-Microsoft systems may be harder.


ABB’s Journey to enterprise social – Veronique Vallieres


ABB chose to take a bottom-up approach for their 80,000 users. The culture of ABB is that people don’t wait for the OK from head office. For three years there was very slow growth of social until ABB needed to hold their annual comms event virtually. Like Thomson Reuters, they decided that if it was virtual then there was no need to limit it to just the management team. Users went from 800 to 10,000. At which point they went from free Yammer to paying for the Enterprise version.

The organic growth meant there were many duplicate networks. They had to spend three months consolidating 38 networks into 8. Yammer said it was the most complex they’ve done.

File 26-02-2015 15 51 16At ABB, adoption was never really an issue, people just kept signing up. Engagement is about 30% active each month, and 55% of the company signed up. Still, there was an issue of the ’empty disco’ phenomenon in places. Being bottom-up, people didn’t necessarily have a purpose to be there, they’d just received an invite from their colleague. So they joined, just waiting for someone to do something. Mostly though, the invitation was done with a specific purpose in mind. Part of getting people to engage was just to remove the small barriers, like enabling single sign-on.

The launch was a soft one, respecting the bottom-up sensibility, rather than positioning it as a corporate initiative. They did brochures on things like ‘Separating myths from the facts’. People kept asking what the strategy and vision was, so they did a three-minute video to explain it.

ABB seem to be a very socially-oriented company, with 50% of the itnranet homepage being social content.

Key success factors

  • Decentralised culture empowered pockets of change
  • Decentralisation meant that the purpose was locally-defined so clearer than a top-down vision
  • Piloting allowed tolerance for trial and error, as well as lightweight governance.

The business value came from increased productivity, stronger company culture, and innovation. They saw success around faster reaction to customer enquiries. In one case, a client actually saw ABB using Yammer and chose to work with them because of their collaborative approach. In another case, an engineer didn’t know how to solve a problem; he posted on Yammer and got four solutions in 90 minutes, whereas before it may have taken weeks.

Veronique found that people were ready to be negative when they met resistance or didn’t see immediate benefit, but slowly this is starting to change. You need to be prepared for the long game.

ABB do virtually no governance, such as merging groups. They’re tolerant of people managing things on their own. They have a naming convention, but don’t police it.


 It’s a wrap!

Another excellent event by the IntraTeam folk. It has a great community feel, a well paced agenda and Kurt does a good job of bringing in fresh speakers every year. If you’ve never been, I’d definitely recommend it.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 17 years, working with organizations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Standard Life. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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