On our day long intranet strategy training workshop Chris Tubb and I not only cover the fundamental steps required to develop an intranet strategy, but also what happens afterwards.
Even when you’ve got an intranet strategy agreed and signed-off by your stakeholders it doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen.You need to socialise and communicate your strategy in order to gain the wider acceptance and genuine commitment from stakeholders and employees in order to:
- get the go ahead and funding for specific projects
- facilitate the right governance structures to make it all happen
- assemble the teams and players required for implementing initiatives
- avoid the watering down of the strategy into something different
- get your intranet strategy prioritised above other competing initiatives
What are you trying to achieve?
Socialising your intranet strategy isn’t rocket science. At a high level you’re trying to:
- create as much buy-in as possible
- develop a consensus across a broad and representative church of stakeholders and groups
- raise awareness with clarity and consistency
And tactically you can achieve this by a number of approaches:
- targeting both stakeholders and employees
- trying to be as inclusive as possible
- seeking feedback so those involved feel engaged and have a sense of ownership of the strategy
- starting the process of socialisation from the moment you start to define the strategy
- being consistent with your messaging and communications
That’s all sounds lovely, in a common-sense type of way, but how does that actually translate into specific actions and tactics? Here are 24 real life examples we’ve seen undertaken by intranet teams to socialise their intranet strategy. Get ready for listicle mode – here they are, in no particular order:
- Have one-to-ones with your key intranet stakeholders
Go and have a friendly chat with the stakeholders that really matter, listen to pain points and explain what the strategy will mean for them. Taking this approach to formulate and then embed strategy should generate buy-in.
- Create a version of the strategy which explains WIIFM for each group
To endorse your intranet strategy different stakeholders and groups want to know what’s-in-it-for-me. Give the people what they want! Create targeted sections of the strategy or other related materials which do just that.
- Have a process where a governance group owns the strategy
If you’re lucky enough to have an intranet steering committee with some big cheeses on, get them to own and ratify your intranet strategy. Senior management buy-in should help generate buy-in from those lower down the food chain.
- Clearly align the intranet strategy to organisational strategy
Make sure your intranet strategy is explicitly aligned to company objectives. Using the same language and terminology really helps, unless everybody thinks the company strategy is meaningless waffle.
- Conduct stakeholder interviews and then hold a workshop
This is a process loved by consultants to help define strategy which also helps drive consensus. Hold structured interviews with stakeholders, non-attributed if necessary, to feed into a proposed strategy. Then reveal the results and recommendations at a workshop with stakeholders to hammer out consensus on strategy..
- Make it a clear and potentially annual strategy
Some intranet teams have a clear annual process for updating their strategy and roadmap for the coming year. This is usually intertwined with the governance mode for ratifying the strategy and has some data inputs to help define priorities. Having a clear and accepted process which runs the same way every year drives confidence in the outcome. .
- Create a catchy mission statement
Sure they can be fluffy, but a decent strapline can be a useful and consistent aid to socialising your strategy.
- Explain the strategy on your intranet
An obvious place to disseminate your intranet strategy is…drum roll please…on your intranet! Create a dedicated page.
- Have a prominent link to the strategy in your footer or navigation
To draw attention to your intranet strategy how about a permanent link in your intranet footer? Hat tip to our friend Sam Marshall for that one.
- Use other channels at your disposal
You’re in internal comms, right? Or if not then you’re pretty close to other digital channels. Use intranet news, surveys, your ESN, whatever to spread awareness and get consensus.
- Link an update to the strategy to your annual intranet survey
If you carry out an intranet survey to gather feedback in what employees think of your intranet (either annually or on an ad hoc basis) then this can be an input into your intranet strategy. Letting employees understand that their input influences the strategy legitimises and socialises it.
- Involve a network of advocates
Having a network volunteer of intranet advocates who act as local champions and experts is now a common tactic used for change management with intranets and ESNs, at least in larger organisations. If you have an advocate network then get their input into your strategy and also to spread the word. .
- Use infographics and memorable assets
Having some memorable visual assets for use in slides, documents and other publicity helps. A killer infographic or data visualization of your strategy that is consistently used can be very effective.
- Do a video
A short video representation of your strategy may just be a little more digestible and engaging than an 18 page word document with a further 52 pages of appendices. It could be a better way to get the attention of busy employees.
- Get a big hitter to explain the strategy in a blog post or equivalent
If you have an active and interested intranet champion, owner or sponsor you could strong arm them into explaining the strategy. Although if they are regarded with contempt by everybody perhaps it’s best to avoid this approach…
- Run a pilot to validate your approach
Sometimes you need to do extra work with nervous or sceptical stakeholders to get their real buy-in. Some commentators frown on pilots, but in my view running one can really help sell the strategy and give you invaluable insight
- Play the organisational process game
Some organisations have a set process for submitting a strategy for wider consideration, which is usually wrapped up in making a business case. In our view a strategy is the precursor for a potential project which requires a business case, but perhaps we are pernickety. Do what you have to do and follow the organisational process game.
- Use the right language and vocabulary
Using the right language and vocabulary to describe your strategy is important. Some terminology gives the wrong impression, while some resonates. Words which are real and emphasize benefits are at a premium.
- Be consistent across your team
Making sure your core team are all on message helps. You want everybody on the same page. Acting consistently with implied behaviours from the strategy also helps. For example if you are advocating a growth in social tools, then your core team should use social tools.
- Have a validation workshop with users
Does the strategy stack up with employees? Run a validation workshop to see what they think. This not only involves more users for buy-in but also gives you a credential to win others over. We believe strategy X is right because group Y agreed with it!
- Create an intranet manifesto
Creating an intranet manifesto sets out some governing principles in a compelling format which reflects your strategy. Its suitable for both stakeholders and users. The City of Malmo has a great intranet manifesto courtesy of Jepser Bylund.
- Highjack a key management meeting
Organisations have management meetings and even conferences. If you can get your intranet strategy in the agenda then you’ll be communicating to an important group all in one place.
- Have a person who ties it altogether
In my experience behind a great intranet there is usually a great intranet manager. Often they have developed the strategy and led the design project. It’s easier to socialise a strategy when you have an energetic and enthusiastic individual who cares about what they are doing. They tie everything together. Perhaps that could be you.
Of course there are other ideas and some of these will work better than others based on your circumstances.
If you’d like to discuss this or any other aspect of intranet strategy then why not come along to our intranet strategy training day being held in London on June 30 2016. Early bird tickets are available until May 13th!
You don’t go to battle until you know you can win. Making sure that everyone is aware of what you are planning is a hugely important step and often very undervalued. Your strategy might be more complicated than you can communicate quickly but what is the essence that people need to know? A word of warning though, if you have a rubbish strategy, or an ill-thought out one, socialising the hell out of it will not only be difficult, but it won’t compensate for the work not done. They will tell that you haven’t got all the answers.