Making a process ‘social’ on your intranet

Consider a project plan, i.e. only the artifact and now you want to make the plan review process ‘social’ on a platform. How will it happen, say on your collaboration or other platform? My idea for this post is to enlist actions from various dimensions and possibly facet them for doing requirements to make a process ‘social’.

Content Responses:

Predominantly 2 types of responses depending on where

In-situ, in this case wherever the plan is located

While we are looking primarily at text, the responses could actually be a same content type e.g. idea on top of an idea or just a related idea, responding to an youtube video with another video, in this case responding to a plan with another plan that may be similar or related

Ex-situ, example as a link back from elsewhere or even back channels

These off site response could be within the intranet, or outside. I have not seen simple ping backs being implemented within intranets, so we are little far away from this future.

Giving some direction to content responses have been tried for example deBono’s 6 Thinking Hats or simple cost/risk/revenue comments

Emotional Responses:

We will only consider ‘like’ emotional response here, this will get overly complex when we add other emotions e.g. hope/fear, happy/sad, pride/shame

“Why only ‘like’, why not ‘dislike’?” is a fundamental question. Response to this comes from Max Weber "I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am."

If you see too much of what I dislike, you may not like me, and I don’t like it.

So what if there are 20 ‘likes’ for the project plan in question, would you commission them for the project?

Would it affect adversely on recruitment for the project if many ‘dislike’ the plan

Social demand / Cost-benefit Actions:

In our example, Project has a plan > Project has a Manager > Plan has a reviewer > Reviewer is a volunteer > Reviewer spends time (cost) > Reviewer benefits from review > Manager benefits from review > Review costs the Manager > Review costs/benefits others (externality)

While these are not direct actions on the artifact, they provide an important basis for reasons to act. Specifically on the demand side i.e. desire to get the plan reviewed, ability to review, and willingness to review.

Network Actions:

These include share, tag, and follow type actions across a network. Every intranet worth its salt respects its users to subscribe on content, tags, person, groups, with almost no push to inbox actions. Negative action here would be removal from personal stream, reporting spam or abuse.

Another phenomenon that has to be taken into account is the back-channel of social. In the case of a plan, there may be a private email thread floating around or a twitter conversation that neither the PM nor others are even aware. But it happens socially anyways.

Here is the taxonomy for all actions from above


Politics on the Intranet

Politics happens in the media covering mandates, parties, policies, power and all the rest of it. Power to control resources (money, people, time) for a limited period is the “Whats in it for me” (WIIFM) for a player. Media has a different set of WIIFM that may be for advocacy, publicity, subscription or other altruistic objectives. The players’ WIIFM are not the same as media’s WIIFM, but they use each other for good or bad and information becomes free and plenty. But they never ignore or act aloof of each other.

The same thing does not happen inside the enterprise, where there is no dearth of politics or the media which is your intranet with all its openness.
1. An ignored intranet is not a great place to do advocacy,
2. a completely closed set of html pages showing policies is not a great place to tell a viewpoint on why change is needed,
3. Leaders don’t logon to the intranet,
4. and information is in closed circles specifically information that is used to control resources.

Litmus test for an intranet is thus “does your organizational politics happen there openly, and does it impact decisions?”. If no value is there, there is no politics. Conversely presence of politics is evidence of value.