It’s the middle of summer, an unusually long, dry, warm summer in Sweden. I have four weeks vacation, but on and off intranets are in my thoughts—on the beach, when we hike in the Norwegian mountains, when I mow the lawn.
This is normal, being me. I’ve worked on and thought about intranets for 15 years. And I love the product, the possible services it can contain and the impact a good intranet can have in an organisation. Sometimes at nights I even dream about intranets—but don’t say this to anyone. I know you understand me, but others, not in the intranet business, could think I’m a bit crazy.
All this time I’ve dealt with issues around intranets. Often it’s tangible things: Search isn’t working the right way. The menu shows too much and the user is confused. H1 headlines ought to be larger. Easy things to fix.
But when you’re an intranet manager there are also other, more abstract things getting in the way: How can we in the team get the budget we need when the line manager doesn’t have any money? Who’s really approving the intranet development plan? All those different stakeholders, how should we handle them when they all seem to think they alone decide about the intranet? How can we get the intranet owner to really understad what we have to do? How can the team get the education-and-support activities done when no-one in the team is keen on doing it? You know, the underlying things that so often put a spanner in the works.
These things have been nagging me for a long time. I like to think I’m good at speaking about intranets and what needs to be done, but when you manage an intranet abstract issues are often hard to describe and even harder to solve. Sometimes you are actually fighting a war against the organisation’s inherent dysfunctions.
This summer a new idea starts forming in my head: What if I could use some of the techniques we already apply in the daily intranet work for putting the spotlight on the abstract needs?
Take card sorting, tree testing, the Microsoft reaction cards, a RACI matrix, general intranet team role descriptions, some ideas from a really good book about product leadership, the card game Old Maid and Harry S Truman’s Desk sign—what could this be if I could pull it all together? (Yeah, I know, I think about many things.)
Suddenly I’m starting to see every intranet task and responsibility as cards in my hand.