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Jane McConnell offers an  interesting commentary on Web 2.0 for intranets in Enterprise 2.0 – to be or not to be? Depends on how you approach it… and offers a 5-Step process for organizations considering Web 2.0 initiatives.

Her approach follows the kind of needs-driven steps that many would advocate when introducing new technologies. However, I’ve also seen an alternative approach work in some organisations that takes a more "labs" like approach. In these situations they don’t worry too much up-front about where the gaps are or what would make a good pilot. Instead they install relatively cheap tools, launch with a "this is a test site" health warning, and see what happens.

Without a great deal of publicity, but plenty of word-of-mouth, quite often the need finds the application rather than vice versa. i.e. something will start happening that is a great use of the tool but which would never have been visible to the intranet team in advance as a good pilot. From this, you can start to use these examples to build the business case for a more formally supported implementation.

If nothing happens, then you can try to recruit a pilot directly, or quietly shut it down and try something else – quite legitimate in the concept of a Lab.

I like this approach as it feels in the spirit of what Web 2.0 is about. It probably  won’t work in very conservative cultures, and I wouldn’t recommend it in places where its hard to try things twice. But sometimes it can be an easier route than navigating the decision-making to work out needs up-front. And to be fair to Jane –  this approach soon converges again with her Step 4.

Jane offers a final useful tip that warrants repeating:

"the  2.0 buzz does more damage than good in large organisations.
People get hung up on understanding the definitions then comparing it
to the 2.0 things they see on the internet  rather than focusing on the
new functionalities it brings to people and organisations"



About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is DWG’s Managing Director for Member Services. In addition to heading up service delivery, she is responsible for member engagement, retention and growth. Nancy also sits on DWG’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.


  1. Good insights, Sam.
    I’ve seen it start in a large company with the Lab approach you describe. However, it has not yet reached a visible level after one year (as far as I know). Of course, this does not mean that a more analytical approach would have gotten off the ground either!
    Some organisations are very lucky by having a senior person bitten by the 2.0 bug and ready to support this type of initiative. However, as I said, and you pointed out at the end of your post, too much buzz does harm.

  2. The “lab” approach to 2.0 inside an organisation

    Take a look at Sam Marshall’s post on the Intranet Benchmark Forum’s blog “Web 2.0 inside your organisation – where to start?” I quote: “I’ve also seen an alternative approach work in some organisations that takes a more “labs” like

  3. Sam – This is exactly what I have seen happen in IBM & Oracle. I think “lab” approaches work well when you have a segment of your workforce that can take advantage of them – for example the Research divisions seem to be hotbeds of this kind of thing in IT companies. If I was going to characterise this segment I would say:
    1. Technophilic (enjoys playing with new tech tools,
    2. Techsavvy (experienced enough to fix them when they fall over).
    3. Has some discretionary time.
    4. Used to collaboration.
    I suspect that if you don’t have a group like this then the lab apporach won’t work – but I’d be interested to hear your POV.

  4. Matt, thanks for your insights. I agree with your characterisation – not sure 2. is really necessary if you install something robust, but if you go for e.g. a Wiki with a non WYSYWYG interface, then it probably is true.
    4. is an interesting one as the initial take-up will require someone who is used to thinking about how tools can help with collaboration, but once they demonstrate what’s possible, then it can spread beyond this population.

  5. Good site. really i like it
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