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Wag the Dog with Intranet News

February 6th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Most employees see the news on their corporate intranet as a great way to learn about the new lunch menu or find out that Sally in accounting is celebrating 20 years of service. What many companies don’t realize is that it is one of the most powerful weapons available to combat change. For anybody who has attempted to make any change in an organization, you welcome all of the tools you can get.

Approaching a project from a change management perspective, the news posted on an intranet is typically used to raise awareness of upcoming project. The more awareness we have, the better the adoption rate of the project, which in turn decreases the time of deployment itself. A well placed article on the news however can also become the driver for change.

For the past few years I have been running experiments, outside of the normal approach of change management and really using the news to manipulate and persuade decisions through what can only be described as an internal media campaign. I only told 3 or 4 people about these theories, which I called the “Wag the Dog” effect, after the appropriate 1997 movie starring Dustin Hoffman.

The results received from these tests were nothing short of scary, which makes me wonder how much of that Wag the Dog movie really happens in our media. For the most part, I have only approached changes that were to benefit my own satisfaction. While better coffee service in the cafeteria and having holiday food sharing initiatives seem rather moog, they made life a little easier for everybody, including myself who really needs that good cup of coffee in the morning.

In 2006, I ran a small media campaign to improve the quality of seating, after it was identified that we were going to get some of our failing chairs replaced under warranty. Through some blanket awareness campaigns, well placed surveys and quick reactions to feedback, I was able to unlock a budget that did not exist, and gained approval for really nice Herman Miller Mirra chairs for the entire office. A month before that campaign, it wasn’t even an option to get new chairs.Mirra Chairs

This past week the president came up and asked what was going on with the news, which I have been slipping on updating over the past few months. While my ass is comfortable and the coffee is good, I haven’t been keeping up with the normal drudgery that people also want to hear about. That drudgery however is the same information that keeps people moving. While reporting that the service department found a more efficient way to service equipment while hanging upside down is not important to me, it is to the rest of the few thousand employees here.

In many regards deciding the content of the company news may seem like a task you want to hand over to the receptionist or the secretary down the hall. Realize that there is more influenced by that company news, and that if properly implemented it can become the driver for change and alignment for more than just your morning cup of coffee.

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