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Thanks for visiting the Digital Workplace Group (DWG) website. You'll see this post may refer to the "Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF)," the "Digital Workplace Forum (DWF)" or "IBF Live." But that doesn't match our website name!

In a nutshell, we merged IBF and DWF into one service and changed our name to "Digital Workplace Group." The new name represents the broader set of services we've grown to offer, beyond an original focus on just intranets. We also changed the name of our monthly webinar from "IBF Live" to "Digital Workplace Live."

Although we've relabelled things, we're proud of our decade+ history and have left this page intact. Enjoy your time on our site and please contact us with any questions or comments.

Our recent North America Founders meeting underlined the importance of allowing participants to interact with each other, rather than load the day too heavily with content delivered "from the front". They enjoyed the opportunity to share experiences, to question each other, and also exchange contacts and information.

In facilitation terms, this process is part of "groupware" – a set of approaches to the management and facilitation of group interaction, often supported by the use of software.

In the world of intranets, this groupware has been developed in different ways, often under the banner of "social software". Social software seeks to encourage different kinds of interaction online and is still a "hot topic" for many DWG members.

My previous blog entries on this topic have pointed to the organisational culture often being a root cause of why interaction is poor on the intranet. If the culture has suppressed interaction offline, then that behaviour will be reflected online, to at least some extent.

Some companies, however, have experienced the opposite. Even where there is poor interaction offline, there has been an embracing of social software online. People have found the "new frontier" of the intranet less governed (at least initially) and with fewer boundaries than the more formal offline organisation. This has, of course, led to some blogging that has verged on anarchy and caused legal problems for the organisation, which has then had to sharply "reign in" the newly "empowered" bloggers!

Governance becomes a key issue when trying to develop more collaborative forms of working online. However, if the boundaries are set too narrowly, just as in a real-life workshop or meeting, the energy may also be depressed and the appetite and motivation for interaction reduced. People then become passive and minimise.

The use of Wikis online is a form of interaction that can lead to quite high levels of interaction, especially if there is a critical mass of users contributing – this leads to a very visible and helpful database of shared knowledge. In a workshop environment, when there is a real "buzz" in the room, this is often as a result of a lot of insight and useful knowledge being shared. Wikis have the potential to create the same high level of motivation.

However, it is critical mass that is important. It doesn’t work with a small number of people.

This is also true of message boards and discussion groups. One way to "preload" this interaction is the process of sharing knowledge or ideas in a very dynamic and motivating offline meeting or workshop, in essence a launch meeting for further interaction on the intranet. People leave the meeting with a restlessness to "continue the conversation".

In this way, we model best practice, first, in the business itself, and then look to replicate the behaviour on the intranet.

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 +.

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