What Liquid Liquid can teach us about agile agile intranet management

Nope, that’s not a typo, I do mean ‘agile agile’. I’m trying to emphasise that if parts of an intranet are being delivered in an agile manner – be it crowd sourced wiki-style content or applications provided via agile software development – then the intranet manager needs to be agile too. Agile management for an agile delivered intranet.

It sounds like heresy to criticise agile methods, and I want to be clear that its benefits outweigh any disadvantages. But there are disadvantages, this is where your governance can bridge a gap. I’m lumping together applications and User Generated Content (UGC) such as wikis, but that’s because they both suffer from a similar problem, feature creep, lack of direction and an inability to differentiate important tasks from less important tasks for specialised (but highly vocal) segments of the user community.

I’ve seen claims that an agile intranet needs no management, that it is somehow self managing, but that’s not been my experience at all. An agile intranet needs an agile governance.

The ‘G’ word, governance, has an unfortunate air of formal, civil service rigidity, and this may be why ‘agile governance’ is perceived as an oxymoron. It doesn’t have to be.

Agile Governance in an intranet:

  • Is an enabler, not an impediment to innovation.
  • Minimises cost and waste, and maximises business value of the intranet.
  • Ensures that the legal, security, operational requirements are covered of the organisation but not in away that reduces point 1 and 2.

We’re still honing our agile governance standards, it will probably take a while to get them right, but I would expect them to include:

  • No anonymous user provided content
  • All systems / sites have an effective feedback process to a named owner
  • An effective removal process
  • An effective dating process, so that users can be confident of relevance
  • All systems / sites meet accessibility standards (and maybe some minimal usability ones?)

Anyone suggest something I’ve missed? I’ve not included what could be called “best practice” because it is difficult to generalise that, but I think there is probably a need for sharing best practice (e.g. my comments on making wiki’s effective) without making that “governance”. There still needs to be measurement of user success and a drive to reduce end-user failure. 

Neither have I said anything about specific technologies, though standardising on a set of platforms is a good idea in terms of support.  It’s just that I don’t think the issue of really getting benefit from agile / social intranet is about picking a technology.  Here’s a link to a blog post that explains why .

I picked Liquid Liquid as the pop music link because of the double name (I could have also picked Talk Talk or Duran Duran). But I like Liquid Liquid best… very interesting band and it’s a shame they aren’t widely known. They were an exciting collision of garage punk and funk blazing a path that still sounds innovative 25 years later. A mate of mine, Keith, runs a popular club night in Glasgow is named after one of their tracks – Optimo. but the link here is to one of their most influential tracks, you’ll probably recognise snippets from later more popular songs.


One Response to What Liquid Liquid can teach us about agile agile intranet management

  1. […] By sandyblair I’m lumping together applications and User Generated Content (UGC) such as wikis, but that’s bec… […]

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