Clients often ask us, “what content is essential to a successful intranet?”
Because we have built over 90 intranets for architecture, engineering, and construction firms over the last seven years using Synthesis, Knowledge Architecture is uniquely positioned to answer this question.
We find that this question typically arises when a firm is either:
- Preparing for the launch of a new intranet, or
- Conducting a content audit of an existing intranet
Both of these events provide an opportunity to step back and evaluate how your intranet can give employees what they need, when they need it. Our Essential Content Checklist will help you do just that.
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.
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.
It’s usually one of the first, and most important, sets of questions I’m asked by a new client: “To be successful with Synthesis, what type of Intranet Team should we build around it?” “What are the roles and skills we need?” “What do we expect of them?” “And, how do we pick the right people?”
The reality is that no Intranet Teams are the same. Every firm has different objectives for their Intranet, different people, and different skills. So, while this post can’t offer definitive answers to all those questions, it will get you headed in the right direction.
Over the years, we’ve found that the most successful Intranet Teams have established a handful of pivotal roles within their firm:
- Synthesis Sponsor — Empowers the firm to make the sustained investment necessary to be successful.
- Intranet Champions — Take ownership for driving the Intranet towards the organization’s vision for knowledge sharing and information management.
- Specialists — Communications, information management, and technology specialists who work together to realize the Intranet’s full potential.
- Community Managers — Take leadership roles in activating, engaging, and supporting members in each of the firm’s Knowledge Communities.
Let’s take a look at each of these roles in a little more detail.