It’s not called an intranet

There are some parts of my job that sound so boring to my children that I should tell them about my day as bedtime stories.

Building better systems and processes is one of them. Integrating apps is another. But the winner? Building intranets for businesses.

For most people in a corporate environment (including myself), the intranet is something you use for the first 8 weeks of a job and then hope to never use it again. When I worked at a bank, the intranet was the place to spend time learning [slightly] interesting things when your work day was a little slow.

So they have a tarnished name and probably should. So…what could we change it to? Our personal Google? The “don’t ask me that question again, it’s on the intranet” machine? The hangout? The hub? The place of all How To’s?

Once you’ve decided on a name, you’ll need to look at the job you’re hiring the intranet to do for you (aka Jobs To be Done, thanks Clayton and Alan).

First, some phrases:

  • “We need one place to find everything”
  • “Where does Larry keep that document I need right now?”
  • “I spend half my day on email”
  • To new employee “Ask any questions you have, my door is always open” > 1 month-old employee “I’ll email you the procedure for doing that” > 2 month-old employee “Didn’t we discuss this already?”
  • “Can you email that to me?” “Can you email that to me?” “Can you email that to me?”
  • “I’ll get it, it’s in my messages” “I’ll get it, it’s in my Skype messages” “I’ll get it, it’s in my inbox” “I’ll get it, it’s in my Slack” “I’ll get it, it’s in my Basecamp” “I’ll get it, it’s on my desk” “I’ll get it, it’s in my car”

What you’re hiring an intranet to do

You’re hiring an intranet to be the “person” who:

  • Cuts your email inbox by 20%
  • Makes it easy to find a document using one central, powerful search
  • Includes a FAQ for employees to (shamelessly) search and find answers that they may have asked before
  • Includes Standard Operating Procedures (kids, wake up, I’m telling you about my day…) so people know how to do their work well
  • Makes your business 10x more valuable. If you can systemise it, you can sell it. Unless you find a way to sell your head, your business is worth less with you being the central source of knowledge. It’s also worth less if Susan from marketing is the only person who knows your top clients and what they like
  • Keeps everything in one place…but still links to external file storage services

Where do you start?

You start in the same way you’d declutter a house. Bring everything out into the open and decide on what you want to keep. Get some storage boxes ready. Put the most important things on display, the use-somethings things in easy-to-get cupboards and the might-use-one-day things in your garage.

It’s a process with some pain attached as you’ll be confronted with clutter, need to make hundreds of decisions and need to build fresh habits on what you do.

You’ll also have a huge amount of resistance from staff who tie their job security to the private company information they hold. They don’t want their jobs systemised away. I understand that.

We work with companies going through this process. It’s a process that might bore my kids but, at the end of the day, it results in hundreds of staff members enjoying their day a little more and doing more of what brings them to work each day. Ready, where shall we start?

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