11.12.2008

How to Make Your Intranet Lean

Do you have a lean intranet?

You may not know, because you’ve probably never heard that phrase before. I hadn’t, until I read a posting on a
blog written by Patrick Walsh, an information architect with a background in manufacturing.

Walsh argues convincingly that intranets can be improved by applying lean principles. He came up with the idea, he says, after reading an article that said intranets have too much useless content.

In the article the author states ‘The vast majority of intranets would be far more productive and collaborative if they deleted at least 90 percent of the content they currently have’. Not long ago I was responsible for redesigning the intranet for a large local government department. Having giving it a lot of thought I ended up cutting out around 40% of the content, much of which I had been responsible for inserting in the first place. It was painful but I was quite staggered with the minimalist, clean lines of the redesigned intranet. No one seemed to miss the content that had been removed and I started to get compliments on how easy navigation had become.

Walsh discusses ways in which specific lean principles can be applied to intranets. One of my favorite parts of his posting is where he suggests that intranets may have their own seven types of waste.

Candidates for the seven wastes in intranets might be –

No vision of exactly what the intranet is for (if you don’t know where you’re going you can never get there and everyone’s time is potentially wasted)
Poor or no metadata scheme (again wastes everybodys time and the potential for improvement)
Search not optimised (wastes your users’ time)
Poor categorisation and navigation (wastes your users’ time)
Poor, irrelevant or incomplete content (wastes your users’ time)
Obsolete content still accessible (wastes your users’ time)
Typographical and grammatical errors (wastes your team’s time going back to fix errors)


That’s not a perfect parallel with the traditional seven categories of waste identified by lean principles, but so what? Walsh is thinking of how lean principles can be applied in new ways, which is the kind of thinking I like to see.

So how lean is your intranet? And how can you apply lean where it’s never been applied before.

1 comments:

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