A final thought on intranet implementation. Good leadership support and cooperation with technology staff are vital. But I would like to add one further item that is indispensable. Successful intranets identified in my research were based on very well thought through training for potential user staff. This meant that they were taught not just how to use the system but given plenty of opportunity to talk about why it would be helpful for their immediate work tasks.
Examples include that of a team that rarely had a chance to interact with staff from headquarters, where the intranet was being developed. Trainers were sent out to this far flung site to help them get to grips with how the new intranet could work for their specific work tasks. It was a time-costly method, but given the value the intranet could provide in the long term for improving communications across the organisation, it was an investment worth making. In contrast other organisational knowledge management teams noted that while finance was available for expensive technology, it was rarely so forthcoming for the knowledge management training that would make the benefits flow.
The purpose of this training was to help each team see how their work is aligned with the functions of the intranet, not as a standard tool, but as something that lends itself to their own way of working and particular challenges. Without this, the overheads that staff have to give to enable them to use new technology successfully may just be too high for them to want to bother with it. Resistance to change can sometimes be a sensible decision to avoid an uncertain path sold with nebulous promises of ‘better knowledge sharing’. From the vantage point of the work silo, this may not seem a promise worth redeeming. But once some true advantage was demonstrated that linked directly to team work objectives, the take up was much more reliable.
Here are some comments from the more successful programmes:
- ‘Certainly we felt enthused and encouraged to do it rather than ordered’.
- ‘It is a plus that it is needed to do the job effectively and there is a big demand for that’.
- ‘Yes, I can see the link, particularly in making better, more effective use of resources’.
These are the types of comments that flow from an intranet development where people believe that the system is well aligned with their own work objectives.