1. Good article. I’ve worked on many intranet projects like this. The biggest challenge in a large organisations seems to be the internal politics. Management love to have their own intranet content and often want it before they have any idea what it will be used for. So it is often hard to take it away from them.

  2. One of the reasons I think most intranets fall in line with the org chart is because editing tasks are distributed among people who live inside the org chart for eight hours a day. They identify with their department, and this is reflected when they’re contributing content.

    If I want Finance to contribute, they’re often going to contribute information that people in Finance want to read. Not because they don’t care about anyone else, but because this topic is what they know about and what they can speak on with authority. This being the case, they’re going to want a section of the intranet where they can aggregate Finance-related content.

    The editors allegiance (for lack of a better word) is to their department, as it’s the most enduring social structure in an organization. Most departments are physically congruent in a building, so they work with these people every day, and in almost every company I’ve been at, there’s an “us” and “them” mentality.

    To get buy-in, you almost have to give them some place in the intranet to call their own. You can draw that content out and repurpose it in other places, but contributors are going to want it to “live” in some place they identify with.

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Published October 7, 2003

Donna Spencer
Donna (Maurer) Spencer is an alumni of Step Two Designs, and is a specialist in information architecture. Donna has presented widely on IA, and is currently writing a book on card sorting.

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