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At each DWG member meeting we have a stop press section to demonstrate and swap notes on members' current intranet successes and challenges.  At last week's DWG member meeting in London one of the subjects which generated much discussion was around the use of the intranet as a communication channel in these current turbulent economic times.


Whilst some member organisations have opened up news stories and senior leader blogs to open comment from intranet users, others are finding managers still nervous to do this. 

As we discussed, in the current climate many organisations have some large scale communications to do, and it's not always good news.  Open and two-way communications can help, as was demonstrated by one member organisation on the day. So is this a time to open up your one-way communication habit and encourage more feedback, discussion and comment online?

One the key success factors hinges around whether the company culture is ready for it.  If you have a culture where employees are encouraged feed into plans, face-to-face Q&A with leaders etc, then they'll feel happier to do the same online.  If your communication culture is very one way, just opening up a comments option online probably won't suddenly provide a solution and change things.

Although it might feel risky, most of those DWG members who have embarked on open two-way on-line communications have had very successful results.  One example regularly shared outside the IBF group is BT

So questions to ask yourself – does your intranet support your current
communication culture?  Is it ready for the next one?  Is it adapting to
changing times and changing communication cultures?  Will it be ready
when it's really needed, or if a new leader comes along with a different

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is the Digital Workplace Group’s Managing Director, Member Services & Strategic Partnerships.

During her six-year tenure with DWG, Nancy has been involved in account management, benchmarking, research, blogging and executive producing Digital Workplace Live and DW 24.

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. It certainly is important to recognize your culture, and to work out what will work and what won’t. It is true social media fits better where the culture is democratic and open, rather than hierarchical and paternal. However, even conservative companies are finding increasing numbers of ‘digital natives’ joining their ranks. Collaboration and team work are here to stay.
    If your culture / climate aren’t ideal, explain that providing additional channels for sharing information does not equate to loss of control or a decline in standards. It should lead to increased productivity and innovation.
    It may be helpful to encourage knowledge-sharing and collaboration by assisting executives to lead by example. You could also workout a system of rewards for champion bloggers and networker. You can also start slowly and experiment under the radar. Here’s some other tips:
    •Start the dialogue and keep listening to the comments
    •Spot opportunities in the business where social media could provide a good fit
    •Start small and simple and use an iterative process
    •Predict concerns and solve problems early
    •Create an army of evangelists
    Disclosure – This post is adapted from the article “Overcoming Social Media Resistance” on our website.

  2. Greg Kerchhoff

    I think that a challenge for many organisations is that they own a problem, want to engage with stakeholders inside and outside the business, but can’t be seen to provide a platform for a debate where any management comment will be deemed an official response. Stakeholders may also assume any published comments have been moderated by the company. Often vigorous debate about an organisation takes place in public discussion forums, but the business is understandably nervous of participating, even to correct errors of fact. It might be that organisations like banks and the armed services can never really harness social software for interactive communication but at best can only monitor what is being said and respond in an oblique way through conventional channels. It would be interesting to know how businesses are responding to this dilema.


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