When Was the Last Time Your Intranet Empowered Anyone?

This post originally appeared on AIIM’s Enterprise 2.0 Community Blog.

Think about your Intranet for a moment (stop groaning) and answer the following questions. When was the last time:

  1. Someone spent their own money to purchase promotional items to help build awareness and get more people to participate?
  2. Someone voluntarily put the name of the Intranet on their softball team jerseys?
  3. Someone voluntarily created an entire instruction manual for new users?
  4. Dozens of people volunteered to be the welcoming committee for new users, greeting them and offering to help?
  5. Dozens of people took shifts to be online and act as an ad hoc help desk for other users?
  6. Someone voluntarily created PowerPoint presentations to help others better understand the Intranet?
  7. People routinely logged on at midnight just to see what they missed during the day?
  8. Regular users are routinely “pitched” by official internal communications staff to post content because they have a greater readership?
  9. People beg, beg! for access outside the firewall, and ask for easy mobile/remote access so they can read/contribute?
  10. People voluntarily create mashups and plug-ins to enhance the interface and then share those with other users?

All of these situations are ones that I’ve witnessed, either internally with Booz Allen’s hello.bah.com, our own implementation of Enterprise 2.0 tools, or with my clients. True, in many cases, Enterprise 2.0 communities have failed to build a critical mass of users, they can quickly become echo chambers, they don’t have full leadership support, and they often fail to make it “into the flow.” but despite (or maybe because of) these challenges, Enterprise 2.0 communities can ignite a passion among its users that hasn’t been seen internally since the introduction of the Internet.

If you stopped using the terms “social media,” and “Enterprise 2.0″ and just started telling people that you “have some ideas for improving our Intranet that will make our employees want to log on at night to see what they missed and spend their own time writing code to improve it,” getting buy-in for these tools would be a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want their employees to be this engaged with their Intranet?

So what is it about Enterprise 2.0 that gets users so excited? It’s because Enterprise 2.0 is about more than just disseminating information – it’s about giving each employee a voice; it’s about flattening the organization; it’s about ending approval chains; it’s about being a part of something new. But most of all, it’s about empowering people.

When was the last time your Intranet empowered anyone to do anything?

*Image courtesy of Flickr User Search Engine
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Profile Photo Henry Brown

You have just about hit it straight on as to why in some cases the intranet probably has minimal influence in within the organization.

It’s because Enterprise 2.0 is about more than just disseminating information – it’s about giving each employee a voice; it’s about flattening the organization; it’s about ending approval chains; it’s about being a part of something new. But most of all, it’s about empowering people.

Profile Photo Steve Radick

Thanks Henry – Enterprise 2.0 tools may give the employee a voice, but the culture has to allow that voice to be spoken, to be heard, to be taken seriously. That’s why I feel like E2.0 solutions get a bad rap sometimes for not being successful enough – it’s about more than just the technology, it’s about what that technology enables.

Profile Photo Steve Ressler

In many ways, I think E 2.0 will succeed when they slowly start to take over intranets instead of being an additional silo like they often are. Shouldn’t be too tough as most intranets are pretty bad…

Profile Photo Rachel Correll

Sometimes it seems as though we are too used to getting something when we want it and with as little effort as possible. People just aren’t patient enough to participate in our Intranet. Most would rather send an email to someone else asking them to answer their question(s) instead of empowering themselves. It can be exhausting trying to be the spark that ignites the fire.

Profile Photo Steve Radick

@Rachel – People aren’t going to use the Intranet if it it’s easier and more effective to just email other people. Until the Intranet becomes more effective at getting those answers than blasting an email to 1,000 people, we’ll never see broad user adoption. The key is to both make the Intranet an inviting, useful, collaborative place AND to dissuade people from sending those emails. We have to both incentivize self-empowerment and make the alternative less inviting.