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Organizing Your Global Corporate Intranet

Indi Young has written an article on some common areas found on global intranets:

You can see that, even though companies in different countries adhere to local regulations, the structures for retaining and supporting employees are universal. Healthcare, time off, retirement, equipment needs, training and so on are central areas of interest even though individual policies and features may differ from country to country. Therefore you can confidently organize your intranet around these global topics.

Intranets must be task-centric

Gerry McGovern writes on the need to design the intranet to be task-centric. Not a new idea, but it helps spread the meme:

"An organization-centric intranet is departmental-based. A staff-centric intranet is task-based. Organization-centric intranets fail. Task-centric intranets succeed. Here's why."

Intranets: six months at a time

James Robertson has written an in-depth article on mentoring an intranet redesign. Wonderful insights here, especially on the six months time frame bit.

And the killer content for an intranet is …

Gerry McGovern with some advice on using staff pages in your intranet:

"There is nothing more important for a knowledge organization than to quickly and efficiently connect the right people. It's the foundation-the corner stone-of knowledge management. It is the foundation for success of the company of today-let alone the company of tomorrow. So, why do so many organizations do such a bloody awful job of it?"

Using ‘Guides’ as a Supplemental Navigation Technique

I've published an article on using 'guides' as a supplemental navigation technique.

Supplemental navigation techniques provide an alternative, complementary or adjunct view to seeking out information on large websites and intranets. This article describes when and how to use one such technique – the ‘guide’.

Corporate Intranets Best Practices Report

Razorfish has published its "Corporate Intranets Best Practices" report. Some interesting stuff in there, especially their "maturity framework".

Taming your “target” content

Here's an article I've written on taming your target content -- content that you are after; that you expect to find at the end of your search! In other words, your "Squidoo" content.

"When it comes to the design of intranets and large websites, the limelight is firmly on issues of taxonomy and navigation (info-seeking) and not so much on the final use (info-using) of the content, known as the target content. The focus is still on the library card catalogue and not on the book. In a book world, this is a non-issue; the book is a well-defined, structured entity. But in a web world, we have to deal with open-ended, heterogeneous content, which if not designed for use can be as detrimental to the user experience as weak info-seeking structures. This article briefly describes a simple approach that can help improve the use of target content."

Weekend links

Here are some links for the weekend:

The Value of User-Generated Content

Paul Chin explores the value of having user-generated content (UGC) on the corporate intranet. He brings out the positive and negative aspects of UGC in contrast to 'engineered-content' created by the intranet team. Although it might seem that UGC has many drawbacks, I feel that it is the way to go for corporate intranets. The trick is to design the system to make it UCG-friendly. Strategies like Google Base and tools like Writely can help bring this about.

Ten Best Intranets of 2006

Jakob Nielsen is out with this year's (already?) intranet design winners. So, we have more e-learning and more mobile access and more consistency. The real value of this report is the number of screenshots. It's always difficult to get hold of intranet screenshots.

No more categories

I’ve done away with categories. I was constantly struggling with categories for a long time. I had 3 iterations in the past and always thought that I would finally get to a more representative set, but never did. The main reason I guess is that I find myself not talking about a single topic or domain. If I were to do that, say on instructional design, then I think I would have found that representative set. But the topics I find myself getting into are so diverse—design, decision-making, branding, neuroscience, intranets, etc.—that it would be absurd to have a listing of categories for these entries. Blog posts, I’ve come to realise, want to be free.

Intranet Portals and Scent are Made for Each Other

When it comes to intranets, designing a user-centric organization scheme is a hard sell. You have to break through years of org-chart thinking. Presenting research findings into staff information needs definitely helps in getting the point across. But I’ve found that talking to them about the “scent” of information gets them all excited. Suddenly if feels as if they have the power of understanding. Guess, Jared Spool is seeing the same trends. He’s new article is on intranets and scent of information. How cool!

The Problem with Jack-Of-All-Trades Intranets

Paul Chin writes a nice article on bloated intranets, or Jack-of-all-trades (JOATs):

"You need to know when to say enough is enough. Are you putting features into your system because users have a genuine need for them or are you putting them in because you're afraid of leaving something out? You should be developing your intranet to meet a business need, not to wow users with the its extensive list of features."

Case Study: Intranets, Usability, and Value

Nice case-study approach by Jeffery Veen to solicit feedback on some real common intranet situations. I like this case-study approach; it provides more context to understand the 'noise' that Jeff is trying to get across.

Gary Klein and Cognitive Task Analysis

I'm just back from the Gary Klein masterclass on Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) for Expert Knowledge Transfer. CTA is an analysis of the cognitive skills needed to perform a task proficiently. Gary is a very smart person with many solid years of experience analyzing how firefighters, commandos, marines, etc. make decisions under pressure. His first book, Sources of Power, is filled with many stories of high pressure decision making. His second book, The Power of Intuition, expands on the first and offers concrete methods on how to prepare people for making high-pressure decisions. CTA has many different methods, but Gary mentioned 3 that he uses often: 1) Knowledge Audit, 2) Concept Mapping, and 3) Critical Decision Method. A knowledge audit is done to quickly identify the key cognitive elements of job; concept mapping is done to quickly identify the domain of the decision; and critical decision method is done to analyze decisions made during a critical incident. Now, I know that I am not giving you much detail here, but I did try to Google for some of Gary's papers and came up with something interesting, CTA for Instructional Designers [DOC]. This papers provides a nice overview of CTA and its different methods of elicitation. The reason I am attending this masterclass is because I feel that Gary's CTA methods can give me more ammunition to analyze and learn how people use intranets and websites. I will try to write a more detailed paper on this when I get the time!

Intranets look vainly to knowledge management

Good advice on managing organizational knowledge: "Sharing knowledge takes effort and skill, even between two people talking face-to-face. You don't create that by writing stuff down; you create it by creating robust relationships that give people the confidence to ask questions and learn from each other, and by encouraging the disciplines of asking questions without wasting people's time, and of answering questions with clarity and power, of telling vivid stories within a shared value system. These are the things that matter, the things businesses need to be good at."

Intranet Trends to Watch For

This is a well-thought out list of trends for Intranets. Important inclusions are weblogs, KM and findability.

Making Knowledge Management Work on your Intranet

An introductory look at how intranets can server as effective KM platforms. Here's a tip we can use: "Your intranet can be optimized to support knowledge management initiatives if you make changes to the existing content, publishing processes, and information architecture of the intranet."

Ten Best Government Intranets

Interesting report from Jakob Nielsen on government intranets. He lists down the factors that separated the winners from the rest -- from managing content editors to workflow support.

Intranets and knowledge sharing

"This article challenges the vision of the corporate intranet as a publishing tool, or a static repository for web pages or documents. Instead, it looks at a number of ways in which the intranet can become a dynamic and living environment for knowledge-based activities."

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