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Mujibor de Graaf, serial entrepreneurMujibor de Graaf is the founder of IT solutions for the exchange of knowledge. With the Viadesk intranet, founded in 1999, employees efficiently exchange documents digitally. With his experience in cloud-based knowledge transfer, he also launched the online training platform Coursepath. Thanks to its secure hosting on EU territory and its exceptional user-friendliness, the multilingual platform is currently establishing itself throughout Europe. The Dutchman commutes between the two company headquarters in Amsterdam and Cologne on a weekly basis. He and his teams have therefore fully adapted to mobile, flexible working with digital support. More information at www.coursepath.de/

Lean Social Intranet generational exchange: 5 tips for better communication


Well-informed employees are more motivated than others, but how do you get the little involved? The Lean method can improve communication on the intranet and increase customer satisfaction. However, some basic principles must be fulfilled to encourage young and older employees to exchange ideas.

People are at different frequencies

How can people with something simple like communication - two parties talking on the same channel - struggle so hard? Company Actually, this is often a big problem. People are on different frequencies. They talk to each other, but do not hear each other. This naturally causes disadvantages, not least for the customer.

The solution to this problem is the Social Intranet. An intuitive platform on which all colleagues can be found regardless of department, location, expertise or level, where sharing, likening, reacting, adding and adapting is the most normal thing in the world.

How the social intranet can help

Studies * have shown that for companies with social intranet, approximately 92 percent of employees have access to this digital workspace. The problem obviously is not in the access, but in the use!

Many employees experience their social intranet as a mere addition to the normal workspace, not as a necessity. Very often still becomes eMail considered the best tool for sharing information and knowledge. But not everyone thinks this way.

The generation air must be overcome

eMail is and remains a popular means of sharing information, but its popularity and usage is shifting with respect to the generation: it is mainly the older employees (55 +) who are on eMails hold. Younger people, on the other hand, are often annoyed by the eMail-Flu and feel more comfortable with modern, social channels like WhatsApp.

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So there is still sufficient communication, only this happens through different channels. If both groups adhere to their own vision and preference, they never get together on the social intranet. Something has to change, but what? And how? To get ahead, we use the Lean method.

What is the Lean Method?

A common but wrong assumption is that “lean” only refers to improving production processes. In fact, this philosophy has its origins in the factories of the Japanese automaker Toyota. But it contains much more. Lean uses a process that is of the utmost importance for every company: the constantly changing needs of the customer.

Lean offers itself as a method to prepare people for the challenge of constantly changing customer needs: how can we offer targeted and efficient services? Elementary for this is optimal communication. This shows the relationship between lean and social intranet: communication - also in the intranet - must be effective and efficient, focusing on the target: the successful projects and the fulfillment of the requirements on the part of the customers.

How does “lean” help a successful social intranet?

A “lean intranet” can be reached in four steps, according to Frits de Vries, founder and managing director of LeanENT:

  1. Create awareness. Do not hide problems but reveal them.
  2. Overcome paradigms. Change means resistance. But when paradigms are broken through, there is innovation and dynamism.
  3. Action. All theory does not help, the new corporate culture has to be lived and lived. Give time, but stay tuned!
  4. Improvement. Learning, evaluating and improving together.

Two birds with one stone

In this way, the Lean method literally catches two birds with one stone: it improves the efficiency in the exchange and therefore the flexibility a company needs to satisfy its customers. This does not mean that the company must directly change all processes.

Some simple rules can already very effectively help to convert the social intranet to lean and thus prepare the way. The following five tips will help to use a social intranet in such a way that employees of all generations participate and initiate efficient processes.

5 Tips for activating employees all generations

  1. To give an introduction: In a statement or introductory course, explain why and what the social intranet is intended for. Only if the employees recognize the benefits and know exactly what they can and should do (and what they shouldn't) on the intranet can they apply it correctly. This also prevents the platform from being “misused” for irrelevant information.
  2. Manage the exchange:  Determine which information is really necessary and which only distracts from the goal (customer satisfaction). A community manager can support the users and inform them if they do not use the intranet effectively. The removal of outdated information is also part of this, because only in this way does the social intranet remain tidy, clear and relevant.
  3. Ensure a flat hierarchy:  Remove all barriers that could prevent people from getting in touch with each other. A lean intranet does not follow the hierarchy of the organization, but offers employees of all departments and levels the chance to read, provide information, and provide feedback.
  4. Create timeliness:  New versions of documents should always be added directly, but also marked as such, so that nobody has to question the timeliness of information. Files and discussions that are no longer relevant should be archived. Thus, they remain preserved but do not burden the clarity and ease of use.
  5. As simple and easy to use as possible:  For information to be really easy to find, you should introduce a categorization. This may relate to the project, the topic, the customer or the department. Of course, the user-friendly search function is also included. In addition, a simple and logical navigation menu.

Just start!
As many tips as you take with you, the most important step is and remains: just do it! If the structure is well prepared, invite the employees and start uploading documents and addressing each other. It doesn't matter whether an older or younger employee takes the first step! As soon as one has started to implement the social intranet as a new workplace, the others automatically join in.

Source: Entopic Intranet Monitor 2014

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