Wednesday 5 November 2008

Should you blow up your old intranet?

Nina Platt likes this alternative intranet 2.0 implementation advice from Chris McGrath, who is one of those smart guys at ThoughtFarmer, where he suggests the first step is to blow up your existing intranet – McGrath writes:

Step 1: Blow up the old intranet.

Why? It's irrelevant to employees' day-to-day job. The cumbersome updating process alienates people. It's out of date and usage is dismal.

How? Find the intranet server, get to a command prompt, and type >rm -rf * (that's a server admin joke...) Alternatively, unplug it. Seriously, it's not worth trying to fix; you've got to start over.

I think we all know where he is coming from - If you’ve ever been faced with a terrible intranet as an end-user, I’m sure you would love to see it blown up. However, while we might *think* about it, I’m not sure this is a good strategy in the long run. Blowing up your current intranet encourages that design once, fixed in stone mentality around intranets that got us into this mess in the first place. It could also be organisational political suicide. Also, which part of the intranet and its existing content are going to blow up?

I would prefer to see a transition and even co-existence, with the view of getting users and management stakeholders used to the idea of another Web 2.0 idea, the continuous beta.

BTW Along those lines, check out this article, The Search for the Perfect Intranet.


  1. Anonymous2:34 pm

    Hi James,

    Thanks for referencing my comments on Chris McGrath's article. Your comment about me thinking that blowing up an intranet is a good idea tells me I didn't say enough in my post.

    I didn't think that Chris meant that we should really blow up our intranets and I attempted to use a little tongue in cheek in my comments. I liked his article becuase it stressed starting over. There are too many times that organizations try fixing what they have and what they have isn't worth fixing.

    Yes, we should keep the intranet we have in place until we have something that replaces it but trying to revive an intranet that is all but dead (except for the network that supports it) just isn't a good idea. Minimally, The architecture may not support content and workflows you want to add and the intranet users may have lost confidence that it will ever work.

    In fact, starting over may take less time than trying to fix what we have. If it takes creating a visual as Chris did for us to make this point, I'm all for it.

    Thanks again,

  2. It's ok - I didn't think you were endorsing that strategy, I just wanted to give you a hat tip. However, to main point of your commment: Clearly there is a point where a 'dead' intranet should be laid to rest, but McGrath's message is about getting to Intranet 2.0, not replacing like for like. I'm suggesting you start as you intend to continue.


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