New Intranet? Go Analog Before Digital

Digital solutions cannot solve analog problems.

That new intranet you’re about to implement has all the tools you’ll need to collaborate, work cross-functionally, create affinity among communities, and foster user-generated content that will speed access to information and boost overall productivity.

But that’s probably not what’s going to happen. I’m sorry.

Because if you’re like 90% of the companies that try this, you’ll be applying a digital solution to what is really an analog problem.

The analog problem is a culture that isn’t already fostering collaboration across functions in legitimate, meaningful ways. It’s a culture that doesn’t encourage and equip affinity groups or seek user-generated content in old-fashioned manual ways.

When a culture isn’t already building authentic momentum toward real cross-unit collaboration, and when the leadership team isn’t truly modeling the intended future-state behaviors that your intranet promises to solve, here’s what’s going to happen: your intranet rollout will shine a bright digital light on existing analog problems and will not generate the kind of adoption you promised in your PowerPoint business case that got you the funding.

Now, if you’re making real progress on your analog culture — in a way that at least 75% of employees can recognize and feel — then by all means, roll out that intranet and strap a digital rocket booster to that good analog momentum.

But if you haven’t, please do yourself and your shareholders a favor and solve the analog problem first. Otherwise, you’ll be taking a potential return on investment and end up with nothing more than a cost of doing business.


Chuck Allen is a VP at Realm responsible for employee engagement and change communications. His extensive background in executive coaching and leadership has lead him to conclusions about life and work. “I work with leaders who want to leave less life on the table and build whole lives worth emulating.”


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