Principles and government models for Intranet by Jane McConnell @netjmc #intra11

Jane McConnell was just as surprised as many in the audience. The number of participants in the breakout about governance was huge! Jane’s breakout continued on the theme of her keynote: how do we govern the intranet in the social era? What are governance principles and models? Her post about the breakout can be found here.

As Jane said in her keynote, a holistic approach to intranet governance is essential. As is its embeddedness in the organization. This breakout explained more deeply what she meant with this means.
Governance in general is very complex. There are 3 reasons why this is so:

  • Different groups make conflicting decisions
  • The right people are not looped in from the beginning when decisions are made
  • Decisions that are made have no relatedness with reality and are theoretic
Jane proposes a holistic approach to governance through 1. organization and 2. 'technology'. Governance relates to ownership of the intranet platform, the principles of the intranet and not its content.

About governance and organization. There is a difference between governance and management. The former has to do with decision relating to the intranet, its scope, principles, etc. Often these terms are mixed which lead to very long discussions and documents. Make sure you keep them apart!
Jane remarked that leaders in the intranet space always link their intranet to organizational change.

Three governance models can be distinguished:
- Representative model (someone represents part of the organization)
- Designated (someone has been assigned to make decisions)
- Informal (decisions wrt. the intranet just happen)
Jane showed how existing companies organized their governance.

Now for the second part: governance related to 'technology'. 'Technology' does not imply technology, but is related to it. This is about questions like: Should there be one entry point to the intranet for all users? Should content be shown based on a user's profile? What's on the opening page and manages the content? Jane told us she runs workshops that run for several days, addressing this topic. This isn't strange because the answers to 'technology' questions have everything to do with influence in the company.

It is extremetly important to define the fundamental principles of your intranet. This is not easy. Examples of principles are: The intranet is structured according to user's requirements. Or: The intranet also has collaboration spaces and tools.

The breakout finished off with the question how to revive the topic of governance and how to keep it alive? Jane mentioned a few concrete steps:

  • Start a community to discuss about governance
  • Organize workshops about governance
  • Start a project blog (to support moving towards governance, governance in place and the continuation of governance)

In short: create dialogue about governance. Then you'll experience what people think about goverance and who's thinking about it.

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