How to fix a broken intranet without any money

Here at Intranet Directions we want to help get intranet managers (and those who have just been told to manage the intranet) get unstuck, when stuck.

So I thought I’d create a (rather unorthdox) strategic plan for the most broken intranet possible – the minimum viable repair. So grab a box of tissues, then man-up:

You’ve got nobody to help, no money and a broken intranet. You could sit under your desk collecting dust or roll-up your sleeves and try and make a difference – it’s your choice. Once more unto the breach, or leave them to it.

The dead-duck

Many intranets hit this point. The intranet is a wreck – if it was a horse it would be taken out into the field and shot.

For whatever organisational reasons, there is no money for capital investment to fix it, and no additional operational headcount: either on the business side to improve the content, or on the technical side to fix the many, many issues of complaint that are aimed at you on a weekly basis.

Your first option, and I urge you strongly to consider it, is to leave. We will call this “Plan A”. Take your energy and sanity to a company that deserves you, and that considers the intranet more important than, say, the vending machines. If you do leave, please leave this Intranet Direction printed out on the desk of your successor as someone is going to have to clear up this mess eventually.

I appreciate you maybe can’t or don’t want to do that – there might not be a huge number of intranet wielding companies in your commutable area, and hey you need that monthly paycheck. Therefore, your second option is to sit there and wait for retirement. I really, really don’t recommend that. You will go insane with boredom, and eventually the intranet will end up so bad they’ll bring the consultants in who will say all of the things that you’ve been saying, but you’ll get blamed.

So, if you have to play this card, what’s the best way to play it?

There is a third option.  It’s about changing the way things are done. focusing on value, upsetting a few parts of the business along the way and bigging up your achievements. It’s about doing what you have to do, because quite frankly you’ve got nothing else to lose. Here’s the Intranet Direction – the minimum viable repair.

Direction summary:

  1. Consider leaving to an organisation that values your skills.
  2. Radically change the way you do things in the light of a poorly performing intranet with unjustifiably too few resources.
  3. Stabilise the intranet as far as you can by concentrating on business value and what is most important to users.
  4. Ruthlessly reject pointless requests for content or functionality that add little overall value.
  5. Rigorously prove the value of your achievements and communicate them to stakeholders.
  6. Continue to fight for resources while reframing the concept of what intranets mean in your organisation.
  7. Again consider leaving and use your achievements to better your professional standing.

What does Steve think?

“Although Chris sounds a bit apocalyptic and gloomy, I think there’s something actually quite liberating about accepting that your intranet is broken, and effectively declaring a state of emergency.  The new set of operating rules you then implement might not be to everybody’s liking, but the added emphasis and energy given to areas of value might just broker a new relationship with at least one of your stakeholders. Ultimately if after a few months you are able to achieve a difference operationally but the stakeholders don’t care at all then you really might be better off taking your skills elsewhere.”

Want to know more?

Please download the PDF where you will find 4000 words of finely crafted how-to:

MVR thumbs

It’s free. On us. No email required; no registration. You’re welcome. Share widely. Let us know how you get on.

—Chris Tubb October 2013

Welcome to Intranet Directions

Welcome to Intranet Directions, a brand new blog from Steve Bynghall (@bynghall)  and Chris Tubb (@christubb) about intranet strategy and moving your intranet forward any way you can.

We’re jobbing intranet consultants and we want this to be a place where we will be publish our ideas, thoughts, approaches, frameworks and tools all of which are dedicated to helping everyone involved with intranets get unstuck, whether it is in their job title or not.

So, we are going to come up with different approaches to thinking about intranet strategy. A strategy is a plan, not a shopping list. Intranet teams get in a jam, so we’re going to come up with some escape plans. If you are flying free and everything is tickety-boo, you might find this interesting and we’d love your input, but if you are stuck fast, and maybe you don’t even have intranet in your job title—but all over your objectives—maybe we can help.

Many of these ideas will be embryonic,experimental and deliberately under-developed—some of them will quite possibly wrong—but we’re also hoping there will be the occasional pearl. In fact, this is one of our reasons for doing the blog: we want to get reactions from the global intranet community to see which ideas “stick” and resonate, the ones worth taking forward, the ones which need remoulding, as well as identifying those which need to be thrown straight into the waste paper basket.

What are our other motives?  Well obviously we’ve got mouths to feed so we’re obviously very happy if you like some of the things you read here and feel we might be able to help your organisation in some way.  But this absolutely won’t become a tedious sales pitch for our services.

We’re both keenly aware of the gap between what intranets could be and the frustration they can cause, and we want to help teams behind them. Despite rumours that intranets have been dead since 1996 and tens of millions of employees worldwide don’t look at them from week to week, they have proven a remarkably resilient concept; absorbing and extending—they have a great future. However this needs intranet teams to stay relevant, moving both with the technology landscape and business need.

We hope we can contribute some original thoughts and tools which help intranets move forward. Of course if our contributions come across either as marketing-led drivel, a vanity publishing channel or just simply aren’t very good, then we will have failed.

As we both already have personal blogs, you may also wonder why we are choosing to publish some of our ideas together.  Well, firstly we both enjoy writing, thinking and working together and Intranet Directions provides a further opportunity to collaborate on something more focused.

Secondly, we’ve both found bouncing ideas off each other invaluable in developing those thoughts, and the blog feels like a natural extension of our regular conversations. Thirdly, we broadly have complementary fields of expertise and interest. Chris is more into strategy, governance, metrics and the future of work, fuelled by his years at running the global intranet for Orange/France Telecom. Steve is more into collaboration, engagement and HR-processes, from his years in charge of the global extranet programme at BDO. And, quite frankly, as men in our (ahem very early) forties with small children, we don’t get out to spread these ideas around in real life as much as we want to.

So where are we heading with it? At the moment we don’t know. Our original idea was to write a book together called “Intranet Directions”, but after a few false starts we were realised that we were both simply too busy to ever complete it.  Maybe we’ll get there eventually, but a blog seems a more realistic outlet for our thinking, as well as not letting us stray too far from the path of the useful.

So that’s Intranet Directions. We hope we live up to our original aims and that you will come back here often.

— Chris Tubb and Steve Bynghall, October 2013