Patience and how we got to live updates from CLT on Yammer

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I’ve scheduled this post to coincide with a live yammering event from our Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) which is happening between 10.30am – 12.00pm today (Monday 22nd April).

Over the past 9 months we have been on a journey of future thinking and internal challenge and it has involved over 100 internal colleagues from all across the council. The process has been called Future Landscape and has enabled a range of people to be empowered to think differently, challenge the status quo and consider the unthinkable as well as the obvious.

Today is another step in that journey when some colleagues are taking a report to our Corporate Leadership Team around the findings, conclusions and next steps from the groups involved.

As part of this process we also wanted to provide a live update of the report, feedback and conversations from the chief executives office, so I was asked if I’d be happy to provide live updates to the councils yammer network – of course I said yes…it will be a first and an interesting experience for all involved.

I’m also due to provide an update on Create / Innovate Month which is taking place during June this year (it is also taking shape quite nicely although I know there is so much to sort out and arrange between now and then. One of the key events through the month is XJamGov for more information and tickets check out the site http://xjamgov.co.uk/

The support for Create / Innovate has been great and the Corporate Leadership Team are keen to take an active part in the month…one of the things they will be doing is each meeting during June (one a week) the meeting will be very different – for example the first meeting in June (Monday 3rd) will be held at the Met Office in their Think-up room.

We will be exploring what other things we can do during the month with them at meeting – but we have already started looking at going completely digital/paperless supported by the councils recent Bring our own device strategy as well as asking those who report to think differently about how they engage – so no traditional report templates will be submitted during June (at least that is the aim).

The “patience” aspect of this post is an acknowledgement to the fact that yammer was setup about 3 years ago by someone in the council and I’ve been on a journey to build broader support and engagement for this whole thing for just as long if not longer…there were times when I thought it was time to move on, but something told me to hang in there and keep being persistent. Some may not have wanted to wait as long especially as most I know live by the JFDI mantra…but there are times when you need patience…although it isn’t like we’ve stood still in those 3 years…we have made massive progress but now it isn’t a struggle to push things through…the harder part is keeping up and staying on top of things

Internal Blogging

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Last October my team worked with our Internal Communications colleagues to develop an internal blogging platform (WordPress) to allow our new 14 Heads of Service to share thinking and updates about the council’s direction as well as updates from within their services areas.

We have had experience of internal blogging before – the chief executive used to blog, but that essentially faded away and was replaced with an internal email newsletter from the chief executive.

I remember having conversation with people back then and many said that they did like and value the chief executives blog but many thought that a more localised view from their head of service would make more sense….so here we are a few years down the road and we are now in that position.

So in the 3 months that they been going, my personal view is that they are successful – ok, not all heads of service are actively blogging yet, but we didn’t create or set any expectations for any of them. BUT and this is the good bit a good number of them are actively blogging and in my view are doing a great job.

So I thought I’d share some interesting high level stats in the short time they have been going – The stats are from 13th October 2011 to 12th January 2012.

  • 4,482 – visits
  • 1,850 – unique visitors
  • 18,733 – page views
  • 4.18 – pages a visit
  • 3 mins 09 secs – average time on site
  • 61% – returning visitors
  • 26 – comments

In my view – this is fantastic, really good. The kind of stats we couldn’t have actually hoped for initially. My only concern is the number of comments, but this is a cultural thing really as well as the content in the blog posts…not all are written to encourage comments, some are purely information only…so we will be looking to add a “like this post” option so we can get a sense as to whether or not people are finding the posts valuable.

What we will be doing with our internal comms colleagues is providing some individual reports for those heads of service who blog to help them understand the details of their blogging pattern and style, for example which posts received most visits.

The most successful writing style is one which brings in elements of humour as well as the personality of the individual themselves…i guess a natural style…so our challenge is to encourage and support them to write more consistently like this when appropriate.

It is great to see and be part of a team (the wider communications team) who are making such great progress.

The Intranet is not a single system

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This post is not about stating anything new…but merely sharing some thoughts…

In my new role I am also responsible for the councils Intranet, which is currently not fit for purpose as the core technology for content, much like our public website is using an outdated technology, it doesn’t support dynamic content and is generally poorly managed.

No one  is to blame for that, we are where we are…but it is clear that we need to change the way we operate around the intranet in order to provide more efficient internal communications and better access to internal services and business processes.

One area which is often hard for people to get to grips with is that the Intranet is not a single system…you may have a content management system which presents your content and manages the intranet homepage, but this is only part of your intranet’s ecosystem…So when people refer to the intranet being rubbish or poor, they are generally referring to the top level content and the look and feel of templates…which fortunately is something we can do something about…But the whole ecosystem needs to fit together in order for an intranet to be useful and usable.

I’ve written before on Intranet’s here, here and here and this is an opportunity to get a broader view on the way forward and have a conversation about the core business purpose and not about the underlying technology, which is where my focus in the past has been.

A few weeks back I put together a single side of A4 on the core purpose and some strategic assumptions in order to frame and inform the future direction and creation of an Intranet Strategy, It was kind of quick and dirty but did the job as we now have a collective acceptance to the current picture…which certainly helps when agreeing a future direction.

This is what I wrote:

Core Purpose

The Intranet should aim to be the number one business support tool for all staff across the council.

The ultimate purpose for our intranet (the source) is to contribute to the Council’s strategic objectives by establishing an internal communications network which is able to provide an efficient, internal service-delivery mechanism accessible from anywhere and at any time.

Typical intranet objectives would be:

  1. enabling high levels of employee involvement (2 way dialogue) and productivity.
  2. support collaboration, information sharing and connecting with colleagues (staff directory).
  3. facilitating business efficiency (employee self service tools).
  4. to become a key repository (the source) for information to assist people in their roles.

Strategic Assumptions

  • The current Intranet platform is no longer fit for purpose.
  • The Intranet is part of the councils wider web presence which also includes the public website and extranet capabilities and should be seen in this context when considering and planning technology solutions.
  • The intranet is not a single system, it is an ecosystem of platforms, tools and applications which contribute to the core purpose above. Note: we will need to understand the relationship between the new desktop, extranet and a new redefined intranet.
  • The intranet should be available to all staff regardless of location.
  • The intranet should make it possible for all staff to contribute to the knowledge repository through formal and informal routes.
  • The information structure should focus on the user perspective and not on the organisation structure. As an example, Figure 1 shows a context diagram for intranet services from an end-users perspective.