Office Hours Recap :: December 2017

Office Hours is 45 minutes of news, stories, and Q+A with Susan, Chris, Zucu, and special guests from the KA Advance community.

This month’s Office Hours features two key members of the Human Resources team at Shepley Bulfinch: Lauren Perdue, Vice President of Human Resources, and Sarah Sack, Human Resources Assistant.

Earlier this year Shepley Bulfinch’s HR team implemented a new process to ensure that the right posts get out at the right time. Now, employees count more than ever on the intranet for important (and fun!) information about opportunities and benefits available to them.

How did they do it? In this webinar, you’ll learn how Shepley Bulfinch’s HR team:

  • Builds their editorial calendar
  • Manages upcoming communications
  • Ensures consistent tone and voice across multiple authors

If you only have a few minutes, we recommend jumping to two highlights: Why Shepley Bulfinch Improved their Internal Communications Process (7:20) and HR’s Editorial Calendar & Process (12:45).

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Establishing a Firmwide Q+A Program Using Synthesis

In this article you’ll learn…

5 Benefits of a Q+A Program
3 Key Roles in a Q+A Program
9 Steps to Roll Out a Q+A Program at Your Firm

“If you can teach people to help themselves you get an additive effect: they not only help each other; they grow themselves as experts. Essentially, you have little experts pop up left and right and they sort of grow on their own. Over time, you raise people up from basic competency towards expert level.” — Jack Chaffin, LMN Architects.

Four years ago LMN Architects hired Jack Chaffin to lead the firm’s transition from CAD-based MicroStation to Revit. They knew they had an expert to guide the process because he’d led similar transitions twice before. Jack’s expertise met such a critical need that after a short while, Jack found that “help desk issues were taking up an increasingly larger portion of [his] energy; taking focus away from other strategic activities” related to the transition.

When it comes to this problem, LMN is not alone. According to research published by Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant in HBR, “up to a third of value-added collaborations [in any organization] come from only 3% to 5% of employees.” As a result, often the people who are most in demand (those with the answers) are becoming increasingly over-taxed by the burden of responding to requests for their expertise. The really scary thing is that in most organizations leadership doesn’t even know who their top collaborators are. As many as 50% of an organization’s top collaborators can’t even be identified by the organization.

Enter a Q+A program. Increasingly, we’re seeing more and more firms successfully implement formal Q+A programs inside Synthesis to identify and activate subject matter experts. We’ve learned from firms like LMN, brainstormed what this looks like at previous Synthesis Workshops, and shared some successful programs through our Office Hours webinar series. In this article we’re going to share the benefits of a Q+A program along with some of the roles and steps necessary to roll one out in your firm.

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Behind the Scenes: How Shepley Bulfinch Prepared Their Community Managers to Drive Intranet Success

Shepley Bulfinch Community Managers

Not long ago, I described one of the more successful Intranet launches I’ve seen—the launch of Finch at the Boston-based architecture firm, Shepley Bulfinch. While the launch itself was certainly a story worth sharing, the planning leading up to the launch is equally so. In my experience, the long-term success of any Intranet hinges heavily on developing a small group of highly engaged and effective Community Managers. In this regard, Finch was no exception. Much of the success of this launch started with the thoughtful and intelligent approach used to engage and train the firm’s Community Managers engineered by Jim Martin, the firm’s CIO and Synthesis Sponsor.

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Behind the Scenes: How Shepley Bulfinch Launched Their Intranet and Engaged Users Post-Launch


New products are launched all around us everyday. Usually, we hardly even notice. Sometimes, they yield a passing nod or a mention. And, other times…well…everything is executed so intelligently that we just have to step back, take stock, and say, “Now that was something!”

I had one of those moments last Fall with the launch of Finch, a new Synthesis Social Intranet for architecture firm, Shepley Bulfinch. To start, the launch statistics were astounding—in just 90 days the firm had over 50% participation and an average of 9 posts a day. More importantly, after seeing the inner workings of this launch, I was really impressed with the thoughtful, intelligent approach taken by the team and had to document what I learned for the KA Advance community.

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Manage Synthesis More Successfully with the Intranet Champion Checklist

Synthesis Intranet Champion Checklist
As your firm’s Intranet Champion, you’re relied upon to drive your Synthesis Intranet towards your firm’s vision for knowledge sharing and information management. Essentially, you’re tasked with understanding the big picture and translating it into a discrete set of daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly activities to make it happen. We created this checklist to help you do just that.

The activities in each section are organized with the more fundamental activities at the top of the list and the more advanced activities towards the bottom. You might find that you begin by just doing one activity in each section and over time you layer on additional activities, or exchange one activity for another.

This checklist is neither exhaustive nor mandatory. It is, however, a great place to start building your own routine.

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Office Hours Recap :: August 2014

Office Hours is 30 minutes of news, announcements, and Q+A with Susan and Chris.

If you only have a few minutes, I’d recommend checking out questions from the KA Advance LinkedIn group at the 6:50 mark and the Synthesis Mobile 3 demo at the 12:20 mark.

August 2014 Topics

0:40 KA Connect News + Highlights

4:50 KA Advance News + Highlights (Questions from the LinkedIn group @ 6:50)

9:45 KA Support News + Highlights

10:45 Synthesis Product Update (Synthesis Mobile 3 demo @ 12:20)

15:35 Are Synthesis analytics coming?

16:55 Will documents appear in the Synthesis Mobile activity stream?

19:10 What makes for a great Community Champion?

23:20 How do Synthesis clients use their project communities?

27:45 What is your advice on breaking through the lulls of activity with an online community?

Next Office Hours on September 25th

Registration is now open for the next KA Advance Office Hours on September 25th at 11 PST.

Synthesis Mobile for iPhone is here!

Great news, Synthesis Champions! Apple has approved Synthesis Mobile for iPhone (v1) and released it on the App Store. You can download it today.


Log in using your e-mail address and Active Directory password.

Once you’ve had a chance to evaluate Synthesis Mobile, you are ready to roll it out to your firm.

See a bug? Let us know at

We’ve really enjoyed building Synthesis Mobile for you. We hope you enjoy using it just as much.

Happy exploring,
The Knowledge Architecture Team