Culture-based digital change agent work: One road ahead?

The quest to solve central workplace related challenges affect us all to some extent. So far, I have begun this journey by posting things like Building a humane digital workplace, where we ground our work in our culture. I have also read a lot about the digital workplace during the years. Two excellent examples of making the digital workplace more tangible are:

This week, I also stumbled over World Economic Forum’s How to be an intrapreneur. Then it hit me: Maybe this, the change agent drive, is what might make the image more complete? Therefore, I added them all to a Venn diagram, to see if I am on to something or not:



If the above is somewhat correct (this is just a test), the workplaces we are moving towards can help us:

Make or save the company money while tackling a pressing societal issue, using digital tools feeling as natural as those we use privately, based in the strong company culture. Not bad for a day’s job, I think. The quest continues.


Intranet governance – a starting point

When I started my new job and became the owner of our intranet, I immediately wrote a governance page on our intranet. Yes, maybe only three people will look through it spontaneously, but I thought it was needed. On this page, we outline what the intranet is for, compare it to other systems we use, outline who is responsible for what, where to turn for training, and more. This way, anytime an employee wonders how we run the intranet, we can point them to this page.

For me, governance is a subject that easily can become unnecessarily complex. No one wants far too long-winding governance texts. Luckily, quite a few people have already thought through the governance question, and below I list some of the resources I found helpful.

Rebecca Rodgers at Step Two and her “Creating an intranet governance guide“. Rebecca outlines what a governance plan is, advises to keep it short and distinct, and presents 8 steps that I used when outlining our governance page. It is also good to know why you should have such a guide:

[blockquote cite=”Rebecca Rodgers” type=”left, center, right”]A clear set of policies and guidelines for the intranet will support good practice, avoid confusion and ensure consistency of approach.[/blockquote]

Annika Appeltofft from Ericsson presents at Intranätverk how they succeeded in building governance around their new intranet. It is very refreshing to hear a practical example like this, compared to only reading theoretical material. She also asks us to focus less on only functionality, and look more at how the intranet is run:

[blockquote cite=”Annika Appeltoft via Intranätverk” type=”left, center, right”][…]a whole lot of time is often put on functionality issues, but that’s not necessary what makes the difference in the end. Instead, more energy should be focused on governance of the intranet – how we work with content owners, web editors etc.[/blockquote]

Ephraim Freed at the Digital Workplace Group in the Analysis of Gartner’s “8 building blocks for the digital workplace” aims at the broader picture and talks about governance for the digital workplace. It is not only needed for intranets per se, but also for the whole planning of our future work places:

[blockquote cite=”Ephraim Freed” type=”left, center, right”]Time and again at DWG we see that strong governance is critical to successful digital workplace programmes. [/blockquote]

There are of course many more sources when looking at governance, but I found the above to be a good start. Good luck!

What I hope to gain from changing jobs

This summer, a big thing happened in my life. After six years at Axis, working with e-learning and then as the global editor for the intranet, I changed jobs. It was not my original idea when getting to know them, but once I knew more about their plans, I made the leap. Starting at the end of July, I now work as a Corporate Communications Manager at Haldex.

Continue reading “What I hope to gain from changing jobs”

Ignite: What is new for intranets and the digital workplace?

​Recently, Microsoft hosted their Ignite conference where they presented their view of what is coming. Yes, they are a vendor pushing their own agenda, but a very influential one.

Here are two summaries of Ignite I have found useful:

SharePoint 2016 – What’s new for intranets? by Sam Marshall. Sam works as a consultant for intranets and the digital workplace.

Ignite: Collaboration in a Modern Workplace Transformed, by Benjamin Niaulin. Benjamin is a SharePoint MVP and runs a company focused on migration.

Yes, much of what was presented might change before for example SharePoint 2016 is released. Meanwhile, it presents a view of the agenda of a massive company.

Content Types in SharePoint – how you can benefit

Since I started working with SharePoint, Content Types have been somewhat of a mystery. Especially when I want to tell others what it is, and how they can benefit. Often, we end up either too abstract (“A way of handling content”) or too concrete (“Is it a Word file you mean?”). Thankfully, there are some great sources that can ease the pain, and let you win from using Content Types the correct way:

Lori Gowin, Microsoft Premier Field Engineer, devotes over an hour to Content Types, Managed Metadata, and You on the great Channel 9 MSDN site.

She starts off by stating the official definition of Content Types:

“Re-usable groups of settings for a category of content.”

And then quickly says it doesn’t tell her much, which is refreshing. Because it doesn’t make much sense for end users either. Lori then goes on to saying that a Content Type can contain any or all of the following:

  • Template
  • Custom Forms
  • Metadata Columns
  • Workflows
  • Information Management Policies
  • Document Information Panel

Complex? Yes. Potentially very rewarding? Yes!

The next source, of many, is Benjamin Niaulin‘s Understanding SharePoint Content Types where he defines a Content Type as:

“Reusable set of columns used together that defines a type of content in your organization.”

Yes, reusable is a key component here – not inventing the wheel as end users would know it. Benjamin emphasizes the demos in his webinar, making it easier for you to dive right into it and try. It is also a great start by talking about the difference between List/Library Columns and Site Columns, and how this links to the Content Query Web Part (CQWP).

Microsoft has a lot to offer on SharePoint, of course. One such page is their Plan content types and workflows in SharePoint 2013,  where their definition is:

“A content type defines the attributes of a list item, a document, or a folder.”

More importantly, they offer an Excel file that lets you record everything they discuss on that page. Very handy!

Once you know the basics, there are many videos around describing how to add them. One example is Peter Kalmstrom’s Use Content Types in SharePoint 2013 of Office 365, showing how to use both SharePoint and SharePoint Designer. also delivered the SharePoint tutorial: Understanding content types, where they go through the basics in under 7 minutes.

What if you want to use SharePoint, but skip this whole Content Type thing? Well, you can’t, as Bjorn Furuknap describes:

“Your only choice to avoid using content types is not to use SharePoint. All data stored in SharePoint is stored using a content type.”

So, if you use SharePoint, you might as well learn to love and use Content Types. My advice is that you start from the above and move down among my links. These presentations have helped me go deeper into this complex subject.

PKM and the social intranets

After taking the highly valuable PKM in 40 days workshop, led by Harold Jarche, I have started thinking about applying these ideas to the use of social intranets. PKM stands for Personal Knowledge Mastery. Basically, it aims to help us take control of our professional development by applying the Seek-Sense-Share framework. The world and its information flow becomes more complex each day, also inside companies. PKM could help make sense of this, instead of adding to the stress.

Meanwhile, the use of social intranet software is becoming the norm. Basically, the vendors say their software helps foster collaboration, innovation, break silos, and more. All this sounds good, but I think the software only takes you 20% of the journey. The 80% of the potential lies in make the end users understand the potential, and then use it. It must fit the culture, and how people are comfortable working.

When we launched a social intranet, the uptake of the social Twitter-like features was slow. Yes, we educated people. Yes, we made it available to everyone. Yes, we paved the way and used it ourselves. But people hesitated. “What should I share with all?”. “Why should I share to all?” were two usual questions. And people felt too busy to post in the social forums. Or potentially awkward (“Why ask openly for something I can search for quickly, or already should know?”). Instead they kept mostly to the blogs and wikis, which are more familiar.

This is where PKM and the social intranets could be a way forward. Some basic ideas I want to explore going forward are:

  • How can an intranet break organizational and work related silos? All intranet software seem to include formal organisation directories, and formal team/project sites. But how can an intranet support more open and spontaneous cooperation, based on themes, interests, and curated content from the users?
  • Which concrete intranet tools should be available to support Seek-Sense-Share? All intranet software seem strong on the last Share part using blogs, feeds, and comments. Tools to support the Search part could be the search function, notifications, RSS web parts, and wikis for personal or mutual content creation. Tools to support Sense could be metadata, tags, discussion forums, and more.
  • When should the employees use which social tool on the intranet? How do we guide users so they feel informed and comfortable in each step? Not all want to share openly, but they might be interested in personal content curation for their own sake.

I hope PKM can be a way to foster cooperation, break silos, and help colleagues with Seek and Sense, and not only Share, which comes last.

Please see this as a start, and please pitch in with your ideas. It is a half-baked idea (thanks Harold for the expression), but hopefully on its way to be more baked.

Using a priority list to gather intranet demands

The way ahead for an intranet can be foggy at times. Gathering demands on your intranet can be daunting, and come in all forms and shapes. E-mails, formal meetings, a coffee break, general complaint, etc.

So to make the intranet team’s job more transparent, and help the organization decide what is important, we decided to try something new.

We created a list with the names of all major business units in our company, alongside the intranet team as a separate unit. This because we can have other high priorities than the end users. Upgrading to a new service pack is one example. Then we list all the demands of each part of the organization, and ask them to rank the top three things they wish for. Before anything is listed, we sit down and talk to the business unit. Once we know what they need, we formulate the demand on a high level. This, so we don’t get caught up in technical details at first, but instead focus on business gains.

The simple, but potentially powerful, list could look like:

Business unit 1

  1. Highest priority
  2. Second highest priority
  3. Third highest priority

Business unit 2

  1. Highest priority
  2. Second highest priority
  3. Third highest priority

We just started doing this, but what I hope we could achieve is:

  • Transparency between all business units and us in the intranet team, so all know what is being prioritized.
  • A way for each business unit to join forces and decide what really is most important for them.
  • A way for us to know that we prioritize the correct things.

How do you collect and sort what is most important for your intranet?

Photo: © Dietmar, Licence: Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Twitter lists reveal the influential intranet people

After trying the Gleek app on my work phone, I discovered a set of great public intranet lists made by some of the people I follow on Twitter:

I also had my own list since before:

There are of course more lists, but looking through these, quite a few people appear in all lists or as people followed by the above (not in all cases, but you get the idea), such as:

Thanks to the app, I not only found public lists I hadn’t seen before. I also found new people to follow. Meanwhile, being influential  in the intranet world, all these people and organizations not only have a responsibility to come up with great ideas, but also to publicly debate what really is the best way forward for intranets. I do to.

I look forward to an interesting intranet year, when I get back from the paternity leave. Then I will perhaps have more time to analyze the tweets of all people above, while launching a new intranet to my colleagues.

Now off to play.

Gaining perspective by playing with our kids

One of the best things about being a parent in Sweden, is the generous paternity leave the state gives us. This is also the reason to my silent period in this blog – I am gaining perspective to my intranet job while growing my patience, beard and playfulness. Being immersed in our children’s world is the best way to gain perpective on what is important. And what is not.

Struggling to build an excellent intranet can get you buried in all kinds of good, semi-good and bad ideas over time. Now I have the time to reflect, and once back in May I know better what to prioritize. One thing that has hit me deeper is the note I saw on Twitter, stating something like: By trying to make everybody happy, you will make everybody unhappy. Focus is key – not all will use the intranet on an equal basis. So once back, I will focus on the people who need the intranet to perform crucial tasks. The people who say “we use other tools instead” and “I am bitter” can wait.

And now back to the wonderful world.

How to upload Android photos to SkyDrive via DropBox

For some unknown reason, Microsoft has not included “Automatically upload to SkyDrive” in their Android version of the SkyDrive app. Why they ignore the needs of so many users is a mystery, since such a function would drive more people to  using their service.

Here is a way to get around the problem using their competitor DropBox:

1. Install DropBox and SkyDrive on your computer.

2. Download the Dropbox app for Android and the SkyDrive app for Android.

3. In DropBox on your Android, go to Settings. Under “CAMERA UPLOAD”, you make sure this feature is turned on. This enables Dropbox to upload your photos automatically. Select only via Wi-Fi to save data and make it work quicker.

4. Download Goodsync or something similar. This software can sync files on your computer and connect it to a myriad of online services.

5. Set Goodsync to sync between the folder on Dropbox your camera uploads its images to, and the folder in SkyDrive where you want the images.

Now your Android photos will also be available in SkyDrive. Yes, it feels a bit stupid and unnecessary, but until Microsoft wakes up to the hundreds of millions of Android users, this is one way.