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Running an Intranet Workshop: Sharing the Agenda (or “Hero’s Journey”)

Our intranet workshops usually last from one to three days. Regardless of the length, we like to set everyone’s expectations by sharing an agenda. Although we share it in advance via email, discussing it again at the start of a meeting reminds everyone of the plan and provides an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments.

Lately I’ve been using the “Hero’s Journey Agenda” to set the stage for my Content Migration workshops. (Read about it in detail on Gamestorming). The Hero’s Journey captivates the audience and prepares them for what lies ahead.

Hero’s Journey for Intranet Content Migrators

  1. Draw a big circle on a whiteboard. Write “Ordinary Life” at the top, and a little figure that represents a person in your group.
  2. Explain that every epic tale involves a hero that gets the call to leave his or her ordinary life. Write “The call” around 2 o’clock on your circle.
  3. Explain that as the hero embarks on his or her journey, they meet friends to help them along the way. Draw a little figure of “helpers” — perhaps with capes or wizards’ hats — and explain who is going to help your group on this journey.
  4. Draw a big line through your circle and divide it into “Known” and “Unknown”. Explain that we’re crossing into the Unknown, and we’re going to be facing Problems and Perils. Write “Problems & Perils” at 4 or 5 o’clock, and draw some dark clouds and monsters.
  5. At 6 o’clock, draw The Pit. Explain that this is the low point, when everyone is going to be frustrated. And that this might be a good time to break for lunch.
  6. In epic tales, the Hero emerges from the Pit with hope: he or she has acquired “Special Powers”, which you’ll write at 7 or 8 o’clock with lightning bolts, light bulbs and exclamation marks. Explain that the group is going to acquire special abilities, such as the ability to quickly add, edit and manipulate content, files and photos.
  7. Finally, write “The Return” around 10 o’clock. This is where the hero crosses back into the Known world, bringing back Gifts to his or her Ordinary Life. Draw little boxed gifts, and explain that everyone will be returning home as Content Heros. They’ll bring back the gift of Content Migration Know-How, which will benefit others on their team.

I used this agenda with a credit union a few weeks ago. The intranet manager loved it when I drew her with a cape, my colleague loved it when I drew her with a magic wand, and the content migrators loved thinking of themselves as heros. When we reviewed our takeaways at the end of the day, many people commented that the Hero’s Journey was a highlight!

The great thing about the Hero’s Journey agenda is that it prepares your group to face a period of frustration during the workshop. This is usually the part where they are learning something new and difficult, or are unravelling a complex problem. But the agenda also assures them that they will break through, learn something new, and leave the workshop with new skills. Presenting the agenda in this way can infuse excitement into what otherwise could appear to be a mundane topic, like content migration.

Chris McGrath

Chris McGrath

Founder, Consultant

Chris McGrath has led intranet projects for over 20 years. He co-founded ThoughtFarmer, an intranet platform used by hundreds of organizations worldwide, and has worked on many SharePoint projects as well. Now, through Tangowork, Chris provides vendor-neutral intranet strategy and development services.

Tangowork Chatbot Consulting

Tangowork’s consultants use research, design and technology to help your organization create better digital experiences. We specialize in intranets, AI assistants and high-performance websites.

The post Running an Intranet Workshop: Sharing the Agenda (or “Hero’s Journey”) appeared first on Tangowork: Consultants for Intranets, AI Assistants, Fast Websites.

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Intranet Case Study: Coast Mental Health

Coast Mental Health, a rapidly-growing non-profit with 750 staff, needed an intranet. They turned to Tangowork.

How can an expanding organization with employees in multiple locations get up-to-date information to all of their employees while also helping them feel connected by a sense of community? How can they maximize operational efficiencies and prevent duplication of work so they can accomplish the most with limited funding? How can they make sure all staff have access to current Standard Operational Procedures so they meet Accreditation standards and health and safety requirements?

These were some of the questions facing Coast Mental Health as they searched for a new digital platform to support their employees.

Coast Mental Health At-a-Glance

  • Purpose: Empower people living with mental illness by providing housing, support services, education and employment.
  • Employees: 750
  • Locations: 51
  • Headquarters: Vancouver, Canada

Services Provided by Tangowork

  • User research
  • Needs analysis
  • Technology recommendations
  • Procurement management
  • Information architecture
  • Software configuration
  • Content migration

Coast Mental Health’s new digital platform makes it fast and easy to find a procedure, fill out a form or see what’s new.

Coast Mental Health is a non-profit organization that serves over 4,500 people with mental health challenges in the Greater Vancouver, Canada area. Coast Mental Health supports, advocates for and promotes the recovery of people with mental illness by providing services and programming that focus on Housing, Support Services, and Education and Employment.

Coast Mental Health’s 750 employees (200 hired in 2018 alone) work in 51 different facilities, and 300 of them are casual or temporary staff. They are a fast-growing organization with the challenge of providing current and relevant information to employees with a variety of work locations and requirements.

Key employee engagement metrics doubled within 6 months of intranet launch

Each of Coast Mental Health’s 51 locations now has a place to collaborate and publish site-specific information

Goal: Ease information flow and strengthen community among front-line workers

Most of Coast Mental Health’s front-line employees don’t sit in front of a computer to do their jobs — and many of them are casual employees or shift workers. Working on different schedules and being siloed at many different locations without regular communication can leave workers feeling disconnected and disengaged.

Coast Mental Health needed an effective way to connect these busy front-line workers to up-to-date organization policies and procedures and to make them feel connected to the organization as a whole. Stakeholders wanted employees to be able to share their experiences and successes as a way to build a feeling of community and commitment to Coast Mental Health’s mission.

A mobile-friendly version of Coast Mental Health’s new intranet can be accessed from employees’ phones

As a non-profit organization, Coast Mental Health is constrained by fundraising amounts and has to work with limited resources to accomplish its goals. Identifying ways to make operations more efficient across the organization was a key part of choosing a new digital platform. Reducing duplication of work caused by employees siloed at different locations was an important way Coast Mental Health could function more efficiently.

Organizations in the healthcare industry are required to follow many regulations and standards. Standard Operational Procedures need to be current and consistent to meet Accreditation Canada standards. Coast Mental Health’s most up-to-date SOPs needed to be readily accessible to employees at all locations.

User-centred research and a technology shoot-out

Coast Mental Health engaged the services of Tangowork as a digital workplace consultant to guide them through the process of designing and launching the platform they needed to achieve their goals.

To learn about the goals of employees at Coast Mental Health, Tangowork conducted depth interviews with Coast Mental Health employees in a variety of job roles to find out what they do in a day’s work. Tangowork looked for opportunities for a new digital platform to have a positive impact and reduce friction in the employees’ work life.

Based on these interviews, Tangowork created several composite personas — example employees based on real people — and produced journey maps that displayed typical events that would happen in an employee’s day. The journey maps presented how the employees’ experiences affected their satisfaction, and the opportunities for improvement that were represented. These journey maps were presented to the stakeholders and were used to create empathy for employees and their needs within the stakeholders.

Tangowork developed a series of journey maps to identify opportunities for the new system to positively impact employees’ workday

Stakeholders then came together to determine their business objectives, and to examine what a new digital platform would make possible for Coast Mental Health, what conditions would need to exist, and what barriers would have to be mitigated for it to succeed.

Once the employee goals and business objectives had been determined, it was time to look at platforms whose features could meet those needs. Tangowork guided Coast Mental Health in looking at the technology vendors that the Real Story Group categorizes as Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software on its Digital Workplace & Marketing Technology Vendor map; vendors who offer products for social networking, intranets, file sharing, and chatbots.

Tangowork helped Coast Mental Health navigate the digital workplace vendor landscape, illustrated here by Real Story Group’s “Digital Workplace Vendor Map”.

 

All of the information gathered was then used to produce practical user stories with example employee tasks. Multiple technology vendors were asked to demonstrate to the stakeholders how those tasks could be accomplished using their software, and the list of vendors was narrowed down to two.

A team of power users tested out the two intranet vendors in a technology shoot-out — performing tasks using the two software platforms over the span of a month. Then the power users came together and voted 93% in favor of using ThoughtFarmer, a Canadian intranet software platform used by hundreds of organizations worldwide.

Tangowork assisted Coast Mental Health with setting up their new intranet, migrating current information to the intranet, creating new content, and creating areas to inspire future user contributions. Coast Mental Health then introduced their employees to their new intranet, Coast Connect.

“Coast Connect” quickly adopted by employees

Today, Coast Mental Health has an intranet, Coast Connect, that is easily accessible 24/7 via computer or mobile device, making it ideal for casual or shift workers to check out. The homepage is populated with regular news stories including upcoming events, health and safety messages and success stories from different Coast Mental Health locations.

With 20,000 views and counting, employees are accessing the staff directory regularly to connect with the people they need. A Staff Spotlight section on the homepage introduces employees to each other by highlighting a different person every time a user visits the homepage.

Coast Mental Health’s CEO, Darrel Burnham, regularly sends “Shout-outs” to recognize employee achievements

CEO Darrell Burnham connects with staff by sending shout-outs on the intranet that recognize employees in a public forum and encourage conversations with the CEO. He has also connected with staff via a New Year’s message and an article encouraging employees to use Coast Connect regularly and keep up-to-date with the news available there.

The tangible benefits of sharing information came swiftly on Coast Connect. Staff at one location created a page with a safety training e-learning module which was quickly noticed and recommended by employees at other locations. The page has been viewed over 1500 times, making it one of the top viewed pages on Coast Connect.

Coast Connect is also an amazing reference tool, with all of Coast Mental Health’s Standard Operational Policies easily accessed by search, navigation or quick links. Having the most up-to-date SOPs online allows staff to be current, consistent and meet Accreditation standards.

Web Forms on the intranet has allowed Coast Mental Health to streamline several of its processes. For instance, previously Coast Mental Health had a generic form for incidents and near-misses that was a catch-all form covering a number of safety requirements, but was ineffective in capturing specific data for analysis. The Forms tool available on Coast Connect has allowed for the creation of a form with data fields that gathers the specific data needed to support ongoing safety standard and auditing processes across the organization.

The new intranet includes online forms with workflow for critical processes

Strengthened community, greater efficiency

Through their new intranet, Coast Mental Health has found a way for their employees to easily access both current policies & procedures and regular news updates about the organization. Success stories and commendation shared by fellow employees and management on Coast Connect build a sense of community and connection. Accessible Standard Operational Procedures mean that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the requirements for meeting health and safety and Accreditation standards. Sharing information on the intranet reduces duplication of work and results in employees benefiting from each other’s work and experience.

From user research to procurement management to software configuration, Tangowork helped Coast Mental Health deploy an intranet that strengthens community, reduces inefficiencies and helps employees continue giving their best to support the recovery of their clients.

Chris McGrath

Chris McGrath

Founder, Consultant

Chris McGrath has led intranet projects for over 20 years. He co-founded ThoughtFarmer, an intranet platform used by hundreds of organizations worldwide, and has worked on many SharePoint projects as well. Now, through Tangowork, Chris provides vendor-neutral intranet strategy and development services.

Tangowork Chatbot Consulting

Tangowork’s consultants use research, design and technology to help your organization create better digital experiences. We specialize in intranets, AI assistants and high-performance websites.

The post Intranet Case Study: Coast Mental Health appeared first on Tangowork: Consultants for Intranets, AI Assistants, Fast Websites.

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Running an Intranet Workshop: How to Warm Up the Room

At the start of a morning workshop, there are usually a few people who are tired, glassy-eyed, checking their phone and largely disengaged. I love the challenge of waking these people up! And it’s usually not difficult — it just takes a warm-up exercise. I’m not talking about jumping jacks — although perhaps those would work — but rather a mental exercise. A warm-up gets everyone comfortable with one another and starts the creative juices flowing.

Hopes and Fears

Sample output from a Hopes and Fears exercise. In this case, we were considering whether all employees should have the ability to edit the intranet.

If you’re kicking off a project, I like Hopes and Fears (described in detail on IBM’s Enterprise Design Thinking site).

  1. Put two headings on a whiteboard: “Hopes” and “Fears”. 
  2. Ask everyone to write down one hope and one fear for the project. Give them a couple of minutes. 
  3. Ask each person to share theirs out loud, one after the other. You can write them down as they share, or if you use sticky notes, they can post them themselves. 

Besides engaging the room, this warm-up helps you address potential problems. On a recent project, I was concerned that the scope was too large. In a Hopes and Fears exercise, one of the stakeholders listed “We’re trying to solve too many problems” as a Fear. This provided an excellent opportunity to discuss the scope and agree to reduce it!

After a warm-up exercise, workshop participants are fully engaged.

Trading Cards

If your workshop involves drawing or sketching, Trading Cards (described in detail on Gamestorming) is a great warm-up.

  1. Hand out 4×6 index cards.
  2. Ask everyone to write their name and draw a stick figure of themselves. It helps to provide an example of your own card.
  3. Then ask them to write a little-known fact about themselves
  4. Ask everyone to pass the cards around the room. Encourage everyone to ask another person a question about themselves.

At a recent workshop, we learned that one person is studying Punjabi, one is working on the guitar, and another went to college on a softball scholarship. People are fully engaged after this exercise and ready to get to work!

According to Dave Gray, founder of XPLANE, “Humans are like cars: we perform better when we’re warmed up.” Although it takes a few minutes, time spent warming up is time well-spent. It’ll make the rest of your workshop more productive.

Chris McGrath

Chris McGrath

Founder, Consultant

Chris McGrath has led intranet projects for over 20 years. He co-founded ThoughtFarmer, an intranet platform used by hundreds of organizations worldwide, and has worked on many SharePoint projects as well. Now, through Tangowork, Chris provides vendor-neutral intranet strategy and development services.

Tangowork Chatbot Consulting

Tangowork’s consultants use research, design and technology to help your organization create better digital experiences. We specialize in intranets, AI assistants and high-performance websites.

The post Running an Intranet Workshop: How to Warm Up the Room appeared first on Tangowork: Consultants for Intranets, AI Assistants, Fast Websites.