Strategic value requires an intranet or digital workplace that fits with the rest of the business and the organisation. A particularly critical requirement is to define the most important types of organisational group and network.
My perspectives on intranets / digital workplace from a strategic organisation effectiveness perspective
Eg at Boots I acted in what was described as a Head of OD role as part of a larger HR team leading the planning of a new digital workplace (this was before the one they have now as part of WBA). IT were on the project, and in the end chose a different intranet / workplace solution than I one I recommended, but in general it was HR that led the project (as it should do!).
The tagline for the conference is The impact of a strategic digital workplace: the tools and tactics to align your intranet with your organisation’s strategy.
But what makes an intranet strategic? Actually it’s not just aligning with the business strategy. Just supporting the business makes it a support tool.
To be strategic, the digital workplace needs to play a role in creating competitive success. There are three ways it can do this, and it is useful to understand which one of them it is designed to do.
These are shown on the organisational value chain, which are like Michael Porter’s business value chain for traditional competitive advantage https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-do-michael-porters-insights-competitive-strategy-inform-ingham/
But in all cases, the intranet needs to inform not just support business results. This is what makes it strategic and this should be the ambition for all intranet and digital workplace practitioners.
The intranet can never impact strategic success on its own. As per traditional competitive strategy (eg Michael Porter’s business activity systems) the intranet needs to be part of an organisational activity system with other aspects of the organisation, eg the other things included in organisational models like Jay Galbraith’s Star model or McKinsey’s 7S.
These models are both quite old though.
This one is better – my own organisation prioritisation model https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/evolution-organization-models-jon-ingham/
This focuses on for core elements: infrastructure, work, people and connections. But it also contains additional enabling elements, and these include the physical and digital workplace. These aren’t the most important elements, but they do need to be included.
The OPM is also useful because it links the main organisational archetypes, forms or structures to the core elements.
Ie companies can choose to organise themselves as functions, horizontal teams, communities or networks, or a mix (meld) of these.
The third need to be strategic is having a clear organisational positioning (like Porter’s competitive positioning, but for the organisation).
The key need for the intranet is to understand which form is most relevant for a particular organisation.
This will influence whether the digital workplace needs to be / build on or support more of a social intranet, team chat system, social community system or enterprise social network, or again, a meld of these.
Is your digital workplace / intranet designed to create new value for the business?
Is it part of an aligned organisational activity system?
Does it support a particular organisational positioning?
Linking the digital workplace to organisation design — Jon Ingham
Linking the Digital Workplace
and Organisation Design
Jon Ingham, The Social Organization
• Organisation Effectiveness consultant focused on
Digital HR and the Future of Work
• Projects developing Digital
Workplace from an OD perspective,
eg in Head of Organisation
Development role at Boots
• Author of ‘The Social Organization’
1. How is a Digital Workplace Strategic?
2. Is there an Organisational Activity System?