IntranetNow: Insights from Strategic Organisation Design

I presented at Intranet Now on Friday. It was my first time at this event and I thought Wedge and Lisa did an amazing job – not only was the event as social as you’d expect a community generated conference to be, it was also more professionally organised than many professional ones. Well done both, and to all the helpers too.
In my own presentation, I wanted to make the same sorts of points I talked about at Digital Workplace Experience last year that the intranet / digital workplace needs to be seen as part of a broader organisation model.
Tony Stewart’s tweet and video of me introducing my Organisation Prioritisation Model is here, and no, I don’t know what I was doing with my arms either.
In addition, this year’s conference focused on strategic impact and whilst we’d been talking about intranet strategies and content strategies, etc, I wanted to explain that having strategies isn’t the same as being strategic. If this term is to mean anything, then it has to be about playing a direct role in creating competitive advantage (see my interview with Michael Porter). Not just aligned with or supporting this, but creating some of it through the intranet’s indirect or direct impact on human or social capital, or acting as an aspect of organisation capital, helping a business set new or more stretching business goals.
Being strategic is always about differentiation and the key need here is to link the intranet; the connections it supports;  the type of information it provides; and the way it provides this to the way people work, and in particular, the type of groups and networks within the organisation.
  • So if what matters most is the organisational infrastructure, then the organisation probably wants to organise using traditional functions, and will be best of with a traditional / social intranet like Interact.
  • If what matters is the work, it should probably use horizontal teams, and may need to base or build its digital workplace around something like Slack or Teams.
  • If the connections between the people, then it needs to look at distributed networks and tools like Yammer, Aurea / Jive or HCL Connections.
By the way, social tools all get a lot of focus these days, but most organisations are still build upon traditional functions, and it’s still the ‘standard’ intranet that often best fits the way people work in these organisations.
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  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

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I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).

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