Many companies invest heavily in technology to revive their ailing intranet but still fall short on user adoption. It seems to me that transforming the intranet from “irrelevant digital landfill” to something that employees would use regularly as a “productivity tool” is no less than a change initiative. So when I thought of examining the intranet transformation in light of a change model, Dr. John Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model was the first choice (I think it’s much more actionable than any other model). Here’s what I found when I applied Kotter’s principles to intranets:
STEP 1: Establish a Sense of Urgency
- What Kotter means: The first and crucial step of leading change is to drive people out of their comfort zones and develop a business case that inspires them.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: “Chaotic,” “unwieldy,” “a digital landfill” – if that’s how you describe your intranet, it’s enough reason to rethink your intranet strategy .
STEP 2: Create a Guiding Coalition
- What Kotter means: No one person can single-handedly manage change. A team having a right composition, a significant level of trust, and a shared objective is critical for success.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: Without a doubt, a strong partnership of many functions is necessary for leading the transformation. However, since Communications occupies a “sweet spot” having a balanced knowledge of company’s objectives, employee needs, as well as technology options, it should be at the helm of bringing the business partners on board and driving the transformation. Use this tool in conversation with business partners to arrive at the shared objective .
STEP 3: Develop a Change Vision
- What Kotter means: A clear vision is a must for helping direct the numerous decisions one needs to take as part of the change process.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: While many companies think they can chart a new course by investing in latest technology (like SharePoint) and social media tools with good buzz, these tools fall short of adoption unless they are tailored to how the employees work. The goal of your intranet strategy should be to create tangible business value .
STEP 4: Communicate the Vision for Buy-in
- What Kotter means: Developing a vision isn’t enough. Ensure that as many people as possible understand and accept the vision.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: Focus your intranet strategy on one of the three things that the intranet can do: (a) Feature Content, (b) Organize Content, or (c) Generate Content. Use CEC’s Intranet Strategy Builder to direct your efforts as well as generate stakeholder buy-in.
STEP 5: Empower Broad-Based Action
- What Kotter means: Most of the times, the biggest impediments to change are rooted in the organization’s culture, its people, and its processes. Remove as many barriers as possible and empower people to perform their best.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: Address the unique concerns of various stakeholders —Information Technology (IT), Executives, Legal, and Employees—and bring them on board by (a) defining business objectives the intranet would support, and (b) sharing data to demonstrate employee need .
STEP 6: Generate Short-term Wins
- What Kotter means: Short-term wins are essential to make long-term change effort credible. Ensure that these short-term wins are both visible and unambiguous.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: Once you’ve decided which of the capabilities—F, O, and G—you want to focus your intranet strategy on, you would need to create tools to support that capability. However, the success of those tools will depend on just one thing – employees actually use it, on a regular basis, to do their jobs better and faster. Such wins will happen only when you’ve got a user-centric design .
STEP 7: Don’t Let Up!
- What Kotter means: Don’t lose momentum before the job is complete. Rather, use the early success to produce more change and keep the momentum going.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: Encourage more and more employees to use the intranet and internal social media by enabling peer support and collaboration .
STEP 8: Make It Stick
- What Kotter means: Keep the transformation in place by creating a supportive and strong organizational culture.
- What it means for your Intranet transformation: Employee needs and goals are constantly changing. Therefore, constantly evaluate your intranet strategy to keep pace with those changes.
Just like the intranet strategy cannot work as “set and forget,” we at CEC are also working to update our guidance on “Intranets and Internal Social Media.” If you have any interesting ideas on intranet transformation or employee collaboration using internal social media, do write to me at email@example.com. We would like to learn from you and also share what we know so far.
CEC Related Resources:
CEC Related Blogs:
- 3 Must Haves for a Successful Intranet
- The Four Fs of Social Media Collaboration
- The Best CEC Intranets Tool