Seth Godin reckons you need to see the end before you begin the journey and this is what makes it so difficult to be a leader.
To be able to be a leader you have to be able to paint a picture of where you want to go and know where you want to end up before you even set foot out of the proverbial door. That doesn’t mean you have to know how you’ll get there but you have to claim the destination.
All of us are good at dreaming about alternative futures. The difference is that once you say it out loud you have with the fact that it might not work or even that it will more than likely fail and humans aren’t trained for this.
Seth’s homework for this lecture was to write down where we want to go and what we’re scared about if we don’t get there.
Me, I want to go to many different places, both personally, professionally and there are places I want my organisation to go. I have many different pictures I want to paint but they are created with similar brush strokes.
There are two strands to my work:
- a massive transformation programme involving the whole organisation
- a different way of working for my department
The journey on the transformation programme will be complex with many twists and turns and possibly some dead ends.
There are many people involved in this project and sometimes it feels out-of-control, drowning in data and outstanding tasks. Sometimes things are crystal-clear.
I will also share this nugget from another hero of mine, Daniel Kahneman:
“Plans for reform almost always produce many winners and some losers while achieving an overall improvement. If the affected parties have any political influence, however, potential losers will become more active and determined than potential winners; the outcome will be based in their favour and inevitably more expensive and less effective than planned. Loss aversion is a powerful conservative force that favors minimal changes from the status quo in the lives of institutions.”
What I fear about this is failure. Failing to make a tool that works for the customer and the organisation. Failing to complete on time and on budget. Failing, failing, failing.
The department picture is a comms department that uses customer insight to create targeted campaigns that will change behaviour and lives for the better. Campaigns based on evidence that can be evaluated to show our worth as a team.
This journey has fewer unknowns and I’m on the trip with people wo also know where they are going and can maybe take a share of the driving.
Its not too late to join me on Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop on Udemy. You should come along for the ride.
I’ve started another course – Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop on Udemy.
I’ve been a fan of Seth’s for years now. I have devoured his books, subscribed to his newsletter and been disappointed that I couldn’t jet to New York for his regular workshops. Needless to say I jumped at the chance of this online course.
Even the first three minute lecture had some gems:
- Leadership is not management
- Management is getting people to do what they did yesterday cheaper and faster today
- Management is the practice of compliance
- Leadership is about change and enrolling others to help make it happen
- landing anyone in it for describing them as a leader
- landing myself in it for not describing someone else as a leader
- not sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet for describing anything I have done as leadership
When Wedge asked me to do a lightning talk at Intranet Now about user experience testing on a budget I jumped at the chance.
We’d just inherited our intranet from IT and an upgrade to the platform, a new task-based approach and a new design all made the task a bit daunting. I could soak up as much learning as I could then apply it back at base.
Luckily I was on pretty early in the programme so I could concentrate after I’d done my talk and scribble copious notes which I will now share. There were common threads:
- intranets available to all staff on all devices, at work, at home and on the move
- intranets as digital workplaces
- the importance of UX
James Robertson of Step Two Designs (Australia) – How to make the most of the emerging digital workplace
Technology should allow your intranet to be delivered to staff not on the network.
Business solutions should integrate with the intranet to create an efficient workforce.
The intranet is not a thing – it’s a family/collection of interconnected digital tools.
Design should add value and should be task driven.
Intranet teams should be experts on :
- change management and adoption
- how the business ticks and what the pain points are
- usability, UX and web design
Paul Zimmerman of Invotra – Intranet of Things – innovation in the workplace
Just like the Internet of Things collects data for improvement and innovation, so should the intranet collect data to optimise workplace processes.
The Intranet should be a connector of people, content and things. Rooms, desks, fire extinguishers, printers – all are trackable and provide info on their status. Could the intranet be used as part of their management process?
We live in an attention economy where internal comms needs to compete for employee attention.
Kevin Cody of SmallWorlders – Bridging the intranet adoption chasm
There are the three levels of engagement:
- laggards – need a reason to log on
- majority – need a reason to return i.e. the tools to help them work efficiently
- early adopters – need a reason to lead e.g. social features, self-service, collaboration, user blogs
Create credible KPIs to measure engagement.
Intranets need to provide the basics for maximum engagement.
For more information and loads of great whitepapers see www.smallworlders.com/blog
Kristian Norling of Intranätverk – Tips for intranet search
Search is not a project – it’s a lifelong commitment. That’s why it’s called WORK.
You should delete as often as you contribute. Have Delete and Donut Fridays. (I quite fancy Corrs and Cake Tuesdays.)
Watch out for information ROT – Redundant, Outdated and Trivial.
Dates are the most important part of metadata. Based on the date you should delete, archive or keep.
Susan Quain of Care UK – Bringing your organisation with you
As the project changes around you keep the scope clear and continuously revise the comms plan. Tell them what you are going to do. Tell them you are doing it. Tell them you have done it.
Make sure you have some quick wins to gain employee confidence.
Don’t call it a project – call it an initiative.
So the rest of my notes didn’t make much sense but here are the soundbites:
- staff have the right to see organisational news first on the intranet before it hits the papers
- compliance with business processes is directly related to how far away the employee is to HQ
- profiles + tagging = tailored content + learning
- can your intranet be trusted – people only trust things that work so do the basics well
- is your staff directory up-to-date? Every now and again force staff to update their details before they can use the search
- the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory – normal person + anonymity + audience = idiot
- tone does not travel well online. Keep an eye on debates and step in if needed but as a mediator understand all perspectives
- just making your intranet look good doesn’t mean people will use it
- turn off the magazine and newsletter and give your intranet a chance. Switch off the offline and the old way of doing things
- replicate the way people interact with technology outside of work
- is it time to drop the term intranet? What we really mean is a digital workplace – a digital space that enables employees to work more effectively and efficiently
And there you have it. A full-on day of intranet learning. A huge thanks go to Wedge and Brian for organising such a great event and for recognising that it is needed. Also a massive cheer to the great speakers who passed on their wisdom and to the audience for their feedback and support.
The full line-up and slides are on the Intranet Now website.
Other people get excited about going to a Take That concert or meeting a celebrity chef. Me, I prefer web superstars, so when I heard Gerry McGovern was running a How to Simplify your Intranet workshop in London, the fangirl in me went into overdrive.
I have read his books, joined his webinars and applied his top task theory to our organisation’s website but the intranet was a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
Following a service review, our team has just inherited the intranet from another department. So the timing of Gerry’s workshop was perfect for us – new team, new version of the content management system (CMS), new version of the intranet.
To kick off the workshop we went round the room and three main themes emerged:
- how to make a self-service intranet
- the competing needs of users, content creators and HR
- how to stop the intranet being the place where PDFs go to die
One delegate summed up his desire eloquently:
“I want the intranet to delight employees. They shouldn’t just tolerate it and it definitely shouldn’t disappoint.”
Gerry then asked us what one thing each of us would change tomorrow if we could and this again produced themes:
- introduce a top task approach
- make the intranet a place to collaborate
- make things easier to find
- make it accessible outside the network to allow remote working
- tighten up the governance
Then Gerry got down to business and believe me, his passion takes no prisoners.
“Your intranet should be the antidote to a bad week,” was one of his first comments. “It should be there to make your job easier. It’s not just there for adjusting flexi or booking holidays – it should help you with your day-to-day tasks and free up your time.”
And we were off.
Most of this is soundbites from my notes but I’ll try my best to make it flow.
Why base your intranet on top tasks?
The first step to a great intranet is identifying the organisation’s top tasks, the important, most used ones. It also helps to know what the tiny tasks are too because this is where the ego of the organisation lies – the stuff managers want on but which don’t add value or simply aren’t used.
Tiny tasks go to bed at night and dream of being top tasks but they generally never do grow to be top tasks.
The metrics you use on your intranet will tell you some of this stuff but cold hard stats don’t give you context. Don’t rely on Google Analytics alone – you need to look at actual human behaviour.
Before you start on the quest to find your top tasks, identify the influencers in senior management and get their buy-in. You need their protection because you are the enemy of the tiny tasks and therefore the enemy of the egos of those who don’t get what you’re trying to do.
In the short-term, ditching tiny tasks will not win you friends.
Gerry described how the CEO of Aer Lingus booked flights on competitors’ websites during senior management meetings to show how it should be done – this is the kind of buy-in you need.
Stop creating content
Humans like to create things but hate to finish and maintain. They also hate to delete. This is why we have bloated websites and intranets.
Stop building and start managing – iterate, iterate, iterate.
People are rewarded for creating but tell someone you deleted 50 documents and they raise their hands in horror – this needs to change. Deleting the stuff getting in the way of doing the top tasks is one of the most productive things you will ever do.
If deleting is too scary, archive instead but you need a document retention plan.
Archive nothing you will kill your intranet. Archive everything and you will kill your archive.
Your archive is a fox and your intranet is a chicken – keep them together and all you have is a fox.
Tasks need to be measurable and you need to be able to set targets but whatever you do, don’t measure page hits – hits stands for How Idiots Track Success!
Don’t measure volume – measure use. Test your intranet and base decisions on evidence.
If there’s one thing that will get managers on your side it’s saving money or making efficiencies, and the savings we’re all aiming for on our organisations’ websites can be made on our intranets.
Focus on what people do
Manage the task, not the channel. Don’t manage the intranet or the content – manage the thing people are trying to do and if it means getting involved in changing the process in the back office, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.
Always focus on the task. Bring the tools, policy, FAQ, news etc to the task – if they are standalone they are just noise.
Self-service is the buzzword of the moment for intranets but most content isn’t fit-for-purpose or even understandable without an expert to interpret it.
If it doesn’t help complete a task get rid of it. Policies are all well and good but people don’t look for a policy document – they just want to complete the task they came on to do.
If you need it to complete the task but people drop out, it needs rewriting.
Top task life cycle – identify task, measure the baseline (it will be horrible), make the changes, measure again, repeat indefinitely.
Navigation is the most important part of a top task website. Make labels clear and avoid creating ‘dirty magnets’ – terms that attract users for vague reasons e.g. FAQs or Knowledge Base.
Put things where people expect them to be. Documents may be produced by your legal department but don’t put them there if people naturally gravitate towards marketing for them.
Don’t use labels like ‘Useful links’ – what’s the alternative, ‘Useless links’? Start at your top level then work your way down, aiming for a 90% first click success rate.
Employees will trust an intranet that helps them do their job, not one that is used as a propaganda tool.
Research around the world shows that two thirds of employees feel overwhelmed – this is your business case for an intranet overhaul.
We wouldn’t accept broken chairs or desks in the office, but we accept a broken digital workplace. Imagine if content that went past its sell-by date started to smell. We wouldn’t tolerate it and we wouldn’t have the bloated intranets most of us have to put up with.
The difference between the web and the intranet is that on the web people spend a lot of time and money making sure their content can be found. On an intranet being found means having to do some work!
Gerry’s international research boils intranets down to five main navigation categories:
- About me
- Find people & collaboration
- News/current affairs
- About the company
- Core – the essence of what your organisation delivers
Focus on the core.
Socitm are considering getting involved in intranets in a similar way to the Better Connected review they do of council websites each year. They attended Gerry’s workshop and we discussed creating a space to compare top tasks and best practice because, let’s face it, internal tasks are going to be pretty similar across the board. Watch this space for more details.
This post was first published on All Things IC blog 14 May 2015. Thanks go to Rachel for the opportunity to share.
I’ve made a couple of observations over the last few months. I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
If you ever do age-specific Facebook marketing or advertising err a good few years either way, if you can. There’s a whole generation on there and there will be for ever more who lied about being 13 just to have an account.
Have you noticed a spike in the visitors to your website last month and this? I’m putting it down to people researching their summer holidays and clearing their history and cookies to try to get round the underhand price-fixing the airline companies use. If you don’t know what I’m on about basically the sites remember who you are so if you go back to look at the same flight the price will miraculously have gone up and there will only be a few seats left at that price. Clear your history and cookies and you’re regarded as a new customer on all the sites you visit.
I’ve just started a PgCert in Making Use of Digital Research at Edinburgh University and so far, apart from technical teething troubles the course has been fascinating. I’ll share some of it here over the next few months.
A tune from me to you
The Jaynetts – Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar
So this year I’ll be 47 – three years off 50. I thought my life would be slowing down, but then sitting on the couch watching Coronation Street or Eastenders has never held much appeal.
Last week my latest course started so I’ve been busy reading research papers all week. The course is brand new, a Pg Cert in Making Use of Digital Research, distance learning at Edinburgh University. The first module looks at the social shaping of digital research – I had my usual wobble, thinking I wasn’t going to be intelligent enough but I suspect I just picked the wrong paper first.
One paper struck many chords though. My last post about teenage relationships on Facebook drew a comparison to some of Danah Boyd‘s research and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even know who she was at the time. I did a bit of digging though and was pleased to discover that my random thoughts are actually being proved right by actual research by someone so influential. Her paper Six Provocations for Big Data echos more random thoughts of mine about how the white male geeks have had their way too long and that coding and data analysis should be core to every pupil’s learning, across every subject, a conversation I’ve had with our Education Improvement Manager and Caroline Stuart Business Development Director at Oracle. About 18 months ago I had a T-shirt made with the legend ‘The geek shall inherit the earth’ on the front and if we don’t act soon it’ll come true. For our children to understand the world round about them they will need killer coding and data analysis skills.
This course is aimed at policy makers and our employee development manager is keeping an eye on the course for colleagues. I’ll give you regular updates on here but if I’m anything to go by an old dog can definitely learn new tricks, especially if there are biscuits involved!
The other things that will be keeping me busy is a research project at Glasgow University. I was asked by the project lead for some feedback on his initial proposal and after a couple of reads it blew my mind.
The Serendipity project’s aim is to develop a dashboard for use by organsations to help with decision-making when working on new policies. It can also be used to give a real-time picture of a place or scenario and maybe even used during emergency situations to help work out the best decisions on the fly.
The idea is to overlay real hard data with all available social data to create community biographies. It’s hoped that public behaviour could also be predicted over time.
For instance if you overlay all the anti-social behaviour data a council has about an area with all the sentiment created about the area on social media you’d get a rounder picture than just all the bad news.
If there’s a major accident on the roads, social info about how people divert around it can be used to model future behaviour and help roads departments and the police plan ahead.
During incidents, past research can be overlaid with social data and emergency planning decisions about evacuations etc and can be tested for potential public reaction before they are actually announced.
It’s looking highly likely that the council will be signing up to the research to be partner, although the details still have to snagged. Needless to say I’m excited.
I might not be ready for the easy chair yet but a nice comfy pair of slippers wouldn’t go amiss and maybe a SAGA holiday brochure.
A song from me to you
Miles Kane – Happenstance
When you’re 14 Facebook comments can make or break friendships but in my experience it’s like real life – everyone falls out then their best of pals two days later.
Teenage relationships tend to be fluid but until social media they were played out in youth clubs, classrooms, bedrooms and the playground. Often the only parental inkling of teenage turbulence would be a passing comment along the lines of:
“How was school today?”
“You going round to Sophie’s tomorrow?”
“Just don’t feel like it.”
Then tomorrow she goes round to Sophie’s as usual, like nothing was ever wrong.
And then Facebook happened. Now the drama is there for all to see and we, if we’re Facebook parents have to learn when to pretend we didn’t read that or when to have a quiet word in the shell-like.
As a networked parent I’ve held my daughter’s social media hand along the way, from CBeebies aged 4 to Facebook, aged 12 and three quarters. I’ve hopefully given her the tools to keep herself safe, in general and to think about channel security settings. Now she’s a bit older she’s now helping me get my head round Vine, Instagram and Snapchat.
However, on Facebook, among teenagers there’s this phenomenon known as an aimed status. Yes, aimed statuses are a thing.
My daughter and some of her friends are friends with me on Facebook and I kind of noticed these aimed statuses a while back. A random statement, seemingly plucked out of nowhere, no one tagged, no one named, but something, usually snide, aimed at someone who’s hacked you off. The first time I noticed them for real was when I thought one of them was aimed at me. Turns out it wasn’t but it showed me the power of an aimed status to raise paranoia levels.
I’ve noticed lots of these going through my news feed – they all seem to be at it – and the flurry of responses is sometimes funny as friends try to work out who it’s aimed at. Everyone has a laugh and it all blows over.
Then this happened.
“You’re pathetic tbh. Sort yourself out.”
A couple of people chipped in with suggestions as to who was being pathetic. The one girl who’d been ruled out but hadn’t obviously read all the posts suggested she be tagged the next time my daughter was aiming a status at her.
Her retort? “I wasn’t talking about you but if the shoe fits.”
At this point there were about 5 people in the conversation and 10 comments. Then the girl’s mum waded in, all guns blazing and it all took a turn for the serious.
Suddenly the people in the conversation were being accused of treating her daughter badly. She then went on to name a mutual friend on Facebook for all to see and described her as ‘troubled’ and said she’d already warned my daughter away from her but didn’t listen.
To Alyx’s credit she came right back with the fact that she can choose her own friends thank you very much.
At this point I felt I had to intervene to I posted the following:
“Facebook is not the place to be having discussions like this. If you have any issues with my daughter I’d appreciate a grown-up phonecall, not a slagging session on here with a bunch of teenagers.”
This comment got 18 likes – almost a record for me.
A few comments later one of the teenagers came out with this gem of a truth:
“Teenage lassies argue all the time then fall back in within a week anyway.”
“If my mum was fighting my battles for me in an aimed status I’d take a head dive out my window.”
265 comments happened while us mums had a heated Messenger debate – I never got the grown-up phonecall. Turns out her daughter was giving as good as she got with the aimed statuses but had been blocking her mum! But she doesn’t think that I should leave Alyx to fight her own battles because she’s just a child.
Well, actually I consider Alyx at 14 to be a young adult and if she can put her own wrongs right then I’ve taught her well.
However, the lesson learned from this is that a parent diving head-first into a Facebook conversation is like butting into a playground conversation – wrong, cringey and just a tad creepy.
What starts as teenage banter suddenly becomes slander when an adult joins in.
As for aimed statuses, I might not like them but they seem to be as much part of teenage life as spots and Freederm.
I’m pretty much over you and your random thoughts tbh . . .
A song from me to you