The future

Intranet governance 101 – the vision

Starting with ‘the vision’, an introduction to some of the considerations and documentation needed to run a good intranet.

‘Governance’ is such a big word, it almost loses its meaning when we start talking about intranet governance. There are strategic experts out there and resources to rely on when considering how your intranet is governed and managed, but allow me to share some tactical ideas to help intranet managers get to grips with governance in a practical sense.

The futureLet’s start with the vision. Now don’t roll your eyes; I’m not talking about the mission and values of your intranet (although that’s part of it) and I’m not talking about some highfalutin PDF signed by the CEO that never gets read. I’m talking about the big picture, the elevator pitch, the log line; something to talk about.

“You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?”
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I think a simple document / intranet page that lays out the overall vision for the intranet is something that stakeholders and everyone can refer to, not to read, but to talk about. The points within the vision article have got to be succinct enough so that people can talk about them. Intranet managers have got to be able to rattle off key phrases in lifts and in corridors. The vision article is a touchstone, something to return to whenever people query the intranet strategy. The vision shapes the way people talk about the intranet, and how they will think about it.

The vision needs to be about what people will do on the intranet, not how they’ll do it. It’s not about technology, upgrades and specific functionality, it’s about what people do using the intranet as a platform to get things done. It’s about expressing the ease of reacting to changing business and of supporting business processes and goals. The vision is about saying what the intranet will be, not what it is today. It therefore needs updating by the intranet manager (working with the steering group) every so often, every six months.

I suggest that intranet managers sit down and write out their hopes for the intranet, without self-editing or censoring. The first draft should be veritably brimming with positivity and empowering language and ideas. The second draft may be a little more realistic, but don’t squash the ambition from the vision. Without rich ideas and high aims, what will people have to talk about and reach for?

The vision can be in any format you favour; several paragraphs, bullet points, or perhaps something more creative. But it must be clear enough that people can remember and talk about it without having it in front of them. A PowerPoint presentation may not be ideal (it separates ideas out too much).

Intranet managers could draft the vision alone, but incorporating ideas from just everyone – so lots of coffees are needed. Approval should be sought face-to-face, not by sending an email to all stakeholders. The vision needs walking around to get it embedded. The long-term benefits of this human approach pay dividends for years.

This little article is part of a series on intranet governance, and is meant to guide intranet managers to create improvements in how the intranet is managed, used and perceived.

  1. Intranet vision;
  2. Intranet roadmap;
  3. Intranet strategy;
  4. Executive sponsor;
  5. Steering Group / Intranet Council;
  6. Governance model;
  7. Governance that is communicated.

Photo credit: x-ray delta one

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1 comment
  1. At conferences around the globe, I consistently ask the question “How many people have some sort of intranet strategy/vision, written on a piece of paper, that other people have seen?”.

    I’ve never seen more than 10% of hands go up anywhere in the world. That’s a scary thing.

    As you outline in this post, something simple will suffice. The real challenge is to write a vision that speaks to (and about) staff, rather than about the intranet.

    “Creating an intranet that is quick and easy to navigate” is a task, not a vision. “Improving web publishing” is interesting, but only for authors. “Creating an effective comms channel” counts, but doesn’t speak strongly to business priorities.

    In practice, creating a vision is pretty challenging and confronting. This is why we talk about the idea of an “intranet concept”, which is half way between a vision and roadmap, written on a single piece of paper.

    PS. keep up the great blog posts!

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