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Positive intranet governance

Painted wall, saying 'This way'.

Positive intranet governance

When supporting intranet publishers, avoid creating a massive tome of ‘shall not’ decrees and instead provide positive examples and room to play.

Take a look at the fourth video (3 minutes), produced by Igloo Software, which may need you to register, taken from a recent webinar I led for them. Browse this series of intranet mini-projects, or read on to see how to help your publishers feel confident and competent.

Video Tip 4: Flip governance to the positves.
Video: Flip governance to the positives.

When I was an intranet manager I had quite a strong sense of what a good intranet should be like, I was really keen everything was high quality and just right. I ended up feeling a little bit like a vigilante enforcer, telling people ‘no you can’t use that font’ and ‘no you can’t use that image’, and ‘no you’ve got to stop that’.

It’s exhausting. Not only that, you end up trying to document all the things people can’t do. You end up with a behemoth of a governance document that’s perceived as a party killer. And nobody reads it anyway.

Flipping governance around to the positives can really help enable people to do more on the intranet.

To avoid a negative, bloated governance document, try these two ideas.

Create a showcase site

Create a mock-up site with great content, appropriate widgets, and perfect navigation. Show what looks good, and works well. People don’t create bad layouts out of malice, but because they haven’t seen it done better. Share the showcase site with new site owners and publishers and have the link ready when talking with existing site owners.

Create a sandbox site

A complementary idea is to give site owners and content publishers a sandbox site to play in. Often, those responsible for looking after a set of pages on the intranet are not experienced communicators, and may only have had perfunctory ‘button pressing’ training on the intranet.

[Related article – Why play is important in digital literacy]

Some may feel acutely aware that whatever they do is going to be visible to the whole organisation, and their managers. They may also feel that doing nothing is better than being responsible for an update that someone doesn’t like.

We need to give publishers a sense of permission and authority over their parts of the intranet; they should feel confident that they won’t break anything. By providing a sandbox site (and the required time…) to play with content and the CMS (content management system) you’ll allow people to try out the layout and formatting tools in a safe space.

Take a look at our series on writing for the intranet, download our free ‘Creating intranet content’ guide, and consider our ’Writing for your intranet’ in-house training workshop.

This is the fourth topic in a five-part series of intranet mini-projects you can repeatably perform to improve your intranet and employee experience.

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 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. 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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