From Intranets to the Digital Workplace #KMWorld

James Robertson is the Managing Director of Step Two Designs, and author of Award Winning Mobile Intranets.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2012 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • How do you “bake” social into the work environment?. ((1) The answer, according to IDEO, is to put people at the center of everything NOT documents. (2) Another method is to switch from an Intranet 1.0 focused on publishing to an Intranet 2.0 focused on collaboration. To do this, you need to understand the purpose for the new approach. Then, deliver the new way of getting things done rather than a particular technology. (3) Deliver information at the point of need no where the user is. Therefore, you need to have flawless, seamless mobile access. (4) Even if you need to use multiple systems to get your work done, consider if all of them can be consolidated behind a single user interface.
  • The Company Policy Problem. Usually organizational policies are distributed by email or are posted to the intranet. The problem is that most people ignore this and never read the policy. A small number may remember that a new policy was circulated and will go back to look for it when they need it. However, most simply don’t. The better approach is to track policy changes and then, when a person takes some action that relates to that policy, the system will alert that person that there has been a policy change that affects that person and the action that person is proposing to take.
  • Start with the User Experience. Tony Byrne (from The Real Story Group) describes this as designing from the glass back. If you start with the experience you want to deliver, you can communicate that experience via story and pictures to everyone who needs to understand and support the project.
  • Tell Your Own Stories. As you are designing, create stories that explain specifically how things will work when the new social system is in place. This is how you help others see the big picture, the grand vision.
  • Simplify. Our job is to connect the dots and blur the lines.
  • Four Critical Questions: (1) Can we make it simpler? (Can we remove something or skip somthing?) (2) Does it make smart use of technology? (3) Does it meet the needs of staff? (You can’t help people you haven’t met.) (4) Is it beautifully designed?


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