Rest in peace, dear colleague.

InMemoriamI am posting this on the day that the Netherlands have a Day of National Mourning for the victims of the horrible MH17 airplane tragedy.

I have a reason to do that.
Many passengers were not only a partner, a family member or a friend, but also a colleague.

Recently I visited an intranet team who showed me how they use their internal social network to announce the passing away of a colleague, and to give everyone in the organization the opportunity to share their memories about that person.

Of course the immediate colleagues would be informed by their manager. Other employees had to rely on the printed newsletter, so they often learned quite late about the death of their colleague. In many cases, the funeral service had already taken place.

Since then, they have chosen to post the sad news on the social network, in a special “Obituaries’ group. The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.

  • All employees are informed timely, and can attend the funeral service if they want to.
  • Many people value the opportunity to share their personal memories and stories about their colleague; the responses are many and long.
  • All reactions are collected and sent to the family, which is highly appreciated.
  • It draws people to the social network that normally do not go there.

Technology-wise it is quite straightforward: the main message is a copy of the printed card, with a picture of the colleague, a short message from management, and the reactions underneath. You can imagine it. It does not feel good to recreate screenshots.

I was very touched to see the internal social network being used for this purpose, it was new to me, and I wanted to share it. Perhaps you may need to deal with this one day. Perhaps even now…

My sincere condoleances to everyone who has lost a loved or liked one in this terrible event. My thoughts are with you.

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Create your own intranet promotion video

Making movieSo, you want to celebrate your new  or revamped intranet with a video?  Great idea! But what do you do and how do you go about it?

I am not an expert in video or in communication. I also do not know the purpose and effect any of the videos in my collection have had in its organization. Have they been broadcasted widely? Were there targets for intranet adoption, and if yes, what were they? Have targets been met and if yes, was that solely the video’s doing? I do not know.
Still, after seeing so many assorted videos, I think I can give you some tips:

  • If you have the budget, hire a professional. They have better equipment, more creative ideas and they will spend less time than yourself.
  • If you do not have money, prepare to spend time. You will have more to learn and more to practice, and most likely more to re-do as well.
  • Have you thought about making this an internal competition? You may have some talent in your organization that loves the opportunity to shine.

No budget? No competition? Time enough? OK, let’s go!

1. What is the story?
What do you want to say and what do you want to achieve?

2. What message type do you want to create?
A demo? A teaser? Something with a person? Do you want to amuse people or do you also want to teach them something?

3. What can you learn from others?
Global collaboration, 24/7 availability of content, access from anywhere, better document version control, one-stop-shop are frequently occurring themes in my video collection, so just borrow ideas from them. (especially the Animations have some nice visualizations of these topics)

4. Write a script and rehearse it.
Do not think you can improvise. You will need to write out the complete text, check it with others and rehearse it a few times. It will help you fine-tune the message and keep time.

5. Always review the end result critically and redo if it is not up to standard.
Remember this is an important message for a large audience! And if you publish it on the intranet, you do not want to be included in my collection with some critical remarks. 🙂

6. Select the video type.
I would suggest one of the following options if you go for DIY.

  • Demo of the functionalities.
    This can be done on your PC with Webex, Camtasia, Screenpresso, Lync or another screen recording tool.
    Before you start, close down all other programmes, remove distracting popups like email or chat notifications, and turn off your phone.
    Use a demo account so you do not have to reveal personal information on the internet.
    Check with IT that they are not going to do software updates and mandatory reboots during your recording. (I have experienced that while giving a training for a worldwide audience…most annoying!)
    Examples (mostly professional from the look of it) can be found in the videos tagged with “Demo”.
  • Talking head(s) video or interview.
    This can be done with any good video camera.
    Select someone who feels comfortable in front of a camera. Better have a manager who feels at ease in front of recording gear than the CEO if he or she does not feel comfortable – it shows!
    Remove all clutter from the environment. Lots of personal belongings in the office, unpacked boxes in the background or a cluttered desk all distract from your message.
    Rehearse the texts and project the words on a computer screen during recording, if possible.
    Ask your actors to switch off their telephone or any other potential disturbance during the recording.
    You may want to add in some screenshots or text slides for variety afterwards – just a talking head can be a little boring, especially if the video is more than 2 minutes.
    Please check the videos tagged with “People” for inspiration. These are not all DIY-efforts, though.
  • Animation.
    There are various tools for that, such as Powtoon, Videoscribe, Explee, a recorded Prezi, a document camera, Moovly or PowerPoint-saved-as-movie.  For iPads, there are YouTube Capture and Adobe Voice  apps.
    Now these tools all look very simple, and promise you that you will be able to create animations in an instant, even without any training, but please take that with a grain of salt. You will still need a concept, a message and a script, drawing or other visual talent, patience and a lot of time in making mistakes and doing iterations to get it right.
    Check my Animations videos for ideas about common concepts such as 24/7, one version of the truth etc. You will also see a few Powtoon videos there, as well as very professional animations.

You may want to read StepTwo Designs’ article with more helpful tips for creating intranet videos as well.

And this list of Video Creation tools may be useful as well, or this list of all kinds of Video tools.

Good luck! And remember to share your results with the world.

Have you created an DIY intranet launch video of your own and if yes, did you use any of these tools or do you have other suggestions?

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

More than 80 Intranet Launch Videos!

75videos(Update November 2018: I now have > 400 videos)

I thought I’d update you on my collection of Intranet Launch and Promotion Videos.

What have I done since my last post on this topic?

1. Removed videos.
I have been really sorry to see that some great entries have been put behind a password on Vimeo so they are no longer publicly accessible.

2. Added new entries.
We are now at 86 items and I have more in the pipeline. I am adding them a few at a time for easy digestion. Follow me on Twitter or follow my collection if you would like to know when I have added new videos.

3. Tagged them.
All videos now have one or more of the following tags:

– Country (if relevant)

– Language

– Purpose (Demo, Teaser)

– Video type (Animation, Demo, People, Movie (= something obviously scripted and composed))

– Organization type. (E.g. Government, Education, Technology, Food)

You can now create your own selection by clicking “Find” on the top of the list and then selecting a tag.

Videos-filter
You can filter for language, country, business etc. 

Would you please let me know if you have another tag suggestion or would like to correct a mistake? I know my tagging will not be 100% complete or correct, so your feedback is welcome.

What can you do with these?

  • Watch and enjoy
  • Use as inspiration for your own intranet launch or promotion – remember to share the result! 🙂
  • Let me know when you find a new one or want to add/change tags
  • Spread the word (ellenvanaken.video gets you there quickly)
  • Write about them!

My collection has already been featured in several posts:

Noodle (Alexis Rodrigo):  Intranet: Ready, Set, Launch!

Intranetizen (Jonathan Phillips): Intranet launch strategies: an idiot’s guide

TwoHives (Steve Bynghall): Where to find hundreds of intranet screenshots

Worldwide Intranet Challenge (Andrew Wright): Top 5 intranet articles May 2013 (WIC Newsletter)

Thoughtfarmer: 25 creative intranet launch ideas

Platform E2E: Collectie intranet teasers en demo videos (in Dutch)

All very good blogs, so while you are there, please read some other posts as well!

What’s next?
Of course I will keep adding new videos. Next time, I will share some of my takeaways. But if you would like to beat me to that, please be my guest 🙂 !

Oh, and in case you are interested: Here is my collection!

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lingerie and Labeling on the intranet.

LaceOnce upon a time (it must have been around 2002) we reserved some space on our intranet home page for new products. Being in an international consumer goods company, we thought it would be good if local marketeers could share their new products or promotions with the rest of the world. At that time, the company was very decentralized, and many wheels were being reinvented. We hoped the little “box” (the words “widget” or “web part” still had to be invented  🙂 )  would make it easier to share ideas.

We called the box “New Products”.

Once someone had requested and received contribute rights, they could upload pictures and enter text. These were visible to all employees, and all new products were being shown in rotation. (the concept of “carousel” had not yet been invented 🙂 )

It was quite popular because people were proud of their innovations. Employees in other countries would sometimes ask if and how they could buy the product, or if they could use the promotion mechanism for their own purpose. So we considered this functionality a moderate success.

That does not mean all went smoothly.

Lingerie
The company also had a textiles division, and a brand specializing in pantyhose and ladies’ lingerie. The products were great – beautiful designs, innovative materials and latest technologies. The brand marketeers were very proud of their products and showed every new product in the New Products “box”. They displayed their products on beautiful models who wore not much else…
Not everyone appreciated that amount of exposed skin, and we (as the owners of the functionality) received many complaints.
We therefore asked the brands to dress the models in a long-sleeved blouse, unbuttoned, to cover some of the skin. The brands agreed, but did not understand that some people were uncomfortable with their pictures, just as the other party did not understand why you would want to post that kind of pictures on the homepage of the intranet.

Pads vs Pods
Another interesting discussion was the one following the display of our latest varieties of coffee and tea pads on the New Products box.  The European marketing teams were proud of their very successful new products, but other countries objected to the use of the word “Pads” on the product pack, because that was associated with feminine hygiene products. In those countries, the common word was “Pods’.
Of course the European brands did not change the name of their succesful range, but it was an interesting reminder of the different meanings of a brand name in different cultures.
Some time later, a computer company launched a tablet computer that used the “wrong” word and nobody complained about that. 🙂

A strategic decision
But then company management had a session about the future direction of the company. As a result, we were asked to change the name from “New Products” into “Growth Drivers”.
While we understood the concept, we were not happy with this, because we were afraid that many employees would not understand the purpose of this box anymore. After all, we were a multinational manufacturing company, and a large part of our employee base, including local marketing, was not exactly fluent in English.

We tried to discourage management but alas, “Growth Drivers” it had to be.

NPGD

From that moment, the use of the web part  (by then we had moved to SharePoint) declined. Even while the only change was the name, employees did not recognize it anymore, especially our non-US population. They asked where the New Products functionality had gone and were annoyed when they discovered that a perfectly good name had been changed into something “fuzzy” that needed “translation”.

What have we learned?
Keep your intranet labels simple and intuitive, especially when you are in a multinational company where not everyone may be fluent in English.

You may also like:

Mind your language. A guest post on Wedge’s Kilobox Communiqué.
How NOT to implement a Discussion Forum.
What does your content smell like?

Lace Image courtesy of andyk at Morguefile.com
The Banana-Caramel pie is my own creation. Recipe available on request!

Now: 50 Intranet launch and promotion videos!

[Update November 2018: There are now more than 400 videos in my collection]

video cameraMy earlier post on intranet launch videos and teasers has become my all-time popular post in 6 months time. Since then, I have kept adding new videos to the collection, and there are now more than 50!

Some highlights of the latest additions:

Real Estate
I have found quite a number of U.S. Real Estate Company’s intranet (re)launches recently. Whether the market has forced realtors to be more efficient, whether they keep close track of their competitor’s digital footprint, or whether it is a coincidence I do not know, but I thought it remarkable.
Most of them focus on knowledge sharing and business tools, so efficiency appears to play a part.

Talking heads
I have also added a couple of “talking heads videos”, which always amuse me since it is fun to see whether people feel comfortable in front of the camera (this one does) or not (like this one).
And one fashion intranet (Miroglio) from Italy takes it outside the office with a video from employees (I think) shot in a park. Quite relaxing and a nice change from either space themes or business environments. Pirelli from Italy also shows employees and focuses on what they want from their intranet. I like that!

(Note February 2013: Unfortunately the two Italian intranets have put their video behind a password now. I am really sorry for that, because they were both a good example of a people-centric intranet, but also posting your video on a public network should mean you are proud of it and want to share it!)

Others worth mentioning
I like this teaser, which focuses on finding information in an international environment in a very down-to-earth way. I only hope that all information is easy to find, since I guess it contains a lot of content!

This relaunch video from a healthcare organization has been created with Lego, and features bloopers at the end.

Fashion company Fossil copies the fashionable retro-design from their website to their intranet, which looks cool but would irritate me if I would have to use this for a long time. It is not for nothing that we see more and more white in current intranet designs! But perhaps they change their intranet as often as their fashion collection :-).

This organization has a rather standard suspense-movie for their new intranet, but also a (spoof?) video of people who want to keep the old intranet – and some spoof ones building on that. Quite recognizable and funny.

My favorite this time
The Cube, from Singapore, is my personal winner this time. Once again a little over-the-top, it depicts the hunt for a manual in an old library.

You can find the complete collection on List.ly.

I hope you enjoy these and that they are a source of inspiration. If you have a video from the launch of your intranet, please add it to YouTube or Vimeo and let me know.

Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Eight and a half ways to collect feedback with SharePoint.

achtAre you interested in what all employees think about your company’s latest product launch, or do you want to know which date would be preferred for that training session? Regardless of your role in the organization, I am sure that you will have asked your team members for feedback or data. How do you usually find out the answers; do you send an email, perhaps even with an Excel file attached? Why not try using your SharePoint intranet? Collecting and managing data is so much easier!There are different ways to enable and collect feedback, depending on your needs and your experience. Are you looking for individual opinions or do you want to know if version A is preferred over version B?

1. Displaying an email address on an intranet page. 

This is often used on web pages on your intranet: “If you have questions or remarks, please contact Firstname.lastname@company.com.” When clicked, this will open an email.
For a little more sophistication, you could add the name as a hyperlink. “If you have questions or remarks, contact Firstname Lastname.
Even shorter is a link called “Feedback” with that same hyperlink. Once clicked, the sender will see the addressee of the email  anyway.

Feedback button, leading to email or a survey/list.

If you want to add some visual interest create a hyperlinked button. (In a Content Editor Web part, add an image, then select the image and insert a hyperlink).

You can even pre-populate the email subject to make sure the addressee knows immediately that this is feedback from the website.

This is suitable for receiving ongoing general feedback about intranet pages, team sites or online manuals and policies. And please do not forget to check the name and the link on a regular basis!

2. Commenting to a Blog.

Because the commenting option in a blog is very visible, you may encourage commenting more than with a button or a link. People comment on a specific blog post and generally not on the entire blog. This may be very good for getting feedback about news and blog posts. These comments will help you to understand which post subjects cause strong opinions and which not.
Comments are stored in a separate list in your site. You can treat them just like other list items: add a workflow (e.g. to review) or create views.

3. SharePoint Survey. 

SharePoint has a decent survey functionality, which allows you many question-and-answer types, a graphical representation of results, different routes depending on answers given, exporting results to Excel for further analysis, configuration of a “thank-you page” and what not. It will suit most purposes for qualitative and quantitative feedback.
If you really want to implement SharePoint in your organization, try to educate people in using SharePoint, and avoid external tools like SurveyMonkey. Like all “one-trick-ponies”, SurveyMonkey has more specific functionalities but it also means data are stored elsewhere and you have to log on when creating a survey. SharePoint will suit most needs perfectly well.

The Graphical Summary gives a quick overview of results

4. SharePoint List.
While I personally think a Survey is generally better for a short-time activity burst, a SharePoint list (generally a Custom List or Issue Tracking List) is better for collecting feedback, such as ideas or complaints, over time. A list allows you to add a description to the questions, you can use a workflow to manage responses and you can create different views to group and manage your data over time. It does not create graphs, however. (But you can create a chart if you export your list items to Excel).

5. InfoPath.
An InfoPath form is a beautiful combination of an Excel document (customizable design, printable, calculations and conditional formatting) and a List item (transparency, lightweight). It can be used when a regular List or Survey does not have enough functionality, such as design or many calculations. I would suggest using it only when you really have no other options. It can be quite cumbersome to create, edit and optimize, and I have personally experienced many access issues.

6. Discussion Board.

Discussion Forum

If you are looking for a no-nonsense way to ask questions and generate answers and opinions, the discussion board is a good idea. In general, everyone will be able to start a discussion, so it is more “democratic” than a blog, where questions can only be initiated by the blogger. On the other hand, while a blog can exist without comments, a discussion board with no comments is not viable. Generally, I would use this either as a Question-and-Answer board for specific networks, or when it is actively endorsed and promoted by management. But perhaps my own experiences with a discussion board play a part in that.

7. Poll.
A Poll is not a standard SharePoint Poll functionality, but many web parts are available. (Kwiz, Bamboo), most of which use a SharePoint survey as a basis.
You use a poll when you want to ask one question with a number of pre-defined answers. It is generally very visible and is also very suitable for lighter subjects. It is great for engagement because it is inviting to click it. A Poll is generally anonymous (unlike the other tools) and respondents are rewarded with the results immediately after voting.

8. Star Ratings.

Star Ratings

In SharePoint 2010 and later you can rate an article or a blog post by giving it a number of stars. It is very interactive and makes it very easy for your audience to vote, but it is not always clear what people vote for: do they like the article for the subject, do they think it is well written? It is also not shown how many people have voted. So it is not so clear how you should act on the results.

8 1/2 : Outlook Voting Options
This only counts for a half, since it is not exactly SharePoint, but most organizations that have SharePoint, will have Outlook as their email programme. If you have only one question with predefined answers and your audience is not too large, you can use the “Voting Buttons” that are in Outlook. (When you have a new email open, click Options > Voting Buttons.) This may be easier to set up for yourself, and easier to answer for your audience than a Survey. You will have to count all the responses though! Please note this is not available in Outlook Web Apps.

How have you used SharePoint to collect ideas, opinions and data? Have I missed something? Looking forward to your suggestions! (This Blog has a comments box :-))

You may also like:

What SharePoint can learn from SurveyMonkey (and vice versa)

Playing “Hide and Seek” in SharePoint

The Perils of InfoPath

A cure for “Social Media” allergy.

It still happens…managers who do not want “Social Media” in their organization, since they think this means “wasting valuable working time”.  Sometimes it is Communications who resist, because they think Social Media will remove the focus from their Corporate News items. Or it could be HR or Legal, because they are afraid that people will say inappropriate things.

Are you convinced that a social intranet is a good thing for your organization, but you feel that senior management blocks it because they do not like the word and therefore refuse to understand the concept and the benefits?  Why not use a better word for it? Here are some examples.

1. Give your complete Social Media suite a fancy name.

You could call it “The Hub” or “the Water Cooler”. Or as Philips does, “Connect Us“.
The good news is that it is a nice way to refer to it, and it does not sound as competition for your other initiatives.
The bad news is that it sounds like something separate from your other tools, while you may be looking for integration.

Barb Sawyers gives some more suggestions here.

2. Focus on the aspect that is most relevant for your organization.

Another option is to zoom in on the actual way this will help you in your organization. Social tools are pretty versatile and can be used for a variety of business purposes. The best name is depending on your specific purpose and your specific organization, but what about these:

  • Networking or Knowledge Sharing. In modern Knowledge Management circles, the people in the network are now considered to be more important than the actual knowledge of the network itself. And indeed, I have been able to find colleagues to connect with when I started a project. I searched for skills and experience in the company’s employee profiles.
  • Company Address/Phone Book. If this is created from your employee’s profiles, why not call it that? Nobody will object to the necessity of having that!
  • Two-way Communication or Open Communication. If you currently have formal, top-down communication on your intranet only, “two-way” or “open” communication could be the next logical step. It may come from comments to news articles, but also from microblogging and status updates.
  • Dialogue. Once again, this sounds like the next logical step for your internal communication.
  • Discussion Board/Forum. If you are used to discussing topics and opinions throughout your organization, why not keep the name when you change the tool from the traditional Discussion Board functionality into something more contemporary such as microblogging?
  • Democratic communication. I personally do not like this word too much, but it may be useful in some instances where you want to stress that all employees can have their say.
  • Crowdsourcing. You can use this if collecting ideas, getting feedback and opinions is the most important reason to introduce social media. My own experiences are very good – I have already received lots of good feedback to my questions through Yammer. I have also crowdsourced a “general terms of usage” for the Dutch Government intranet platform Pleio with help from the Pleio tools and Twitter.

3. Do not talk about it.

“We do not give it a special name, it is just part of our set of Collaboration tools”, an intranet manager told me once.  I really like this approach. If this does not sound like “work” then I do not know what does! What I like most about it is the natural and seamless assimilation of this new work tool into your existing established tool set. With all the hype around social media, giving it no emphasis is a refreshing idea.

What is the name that you use to describe your organization’s social tools?