An internal email newsletter?

Here’s an idea for those wanting to get some engagement going within your organisation. Send some emails.

Actually, let’s be more specific. Send some really good emails.

People are inundated with email at work, and adding to the burden might sound counter-productive. How about sending an email that reduces the burden though?

Since I’ve been publishing daveslist, I’ve had some great feedback from people. Some of it has been commenting on the links I have shared, but most is just conversation, often responding to the brief introductory paragraph, which is often not particularly tech-related, but a brief note about what I’ve been up to.

It strikes me that email is great way to engage with people, when you get the tone and the content right, and it’s a lot easier for people to just hit ‘reply’ to provide a response, rather than visiting a blog post and filling in a comment form, say.

So how about you start an internal email newsletter within your organisation? Maybe do it weekly, on a Friday, and summarise the important stuff that has been going on that week that people really can’t afford to miss. You don’t even need to use a sophisticated newsletter delivery service like MailChimp – to get started just use the BCC field.

This could take the form of links to useful and relevant blog posts and news items online, or an intranet update that people may have missed.

Or, how about you use your email newsletter to curate the best and most important of all the other emails people may have received, and not quite got round to reading? In other words, saving people the bother of having to work out which are the emails they have to read.

Starting an email newsletter for your colleagues to opt-in to might be a great way to start getting your message across – why not give it a go?

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Bookmarks for April 25th through April 30th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Working better together

Working better togetherAn awful lot of the posts I write here on DavePress are focused on external communication and collaboration – how organisations can engage and consult better with other people using the web.

But there is massive potential in using social web technology internally as well, though it isn’t something I talk about an awful lot. A project I am working on at the moment with a government organisation, though, is all about how making internal systems, like intranets, a lot more social.

Why might this help? Well, having a social approach to internal systems will make a significant positive difference to the way knowledge and information is managed throughout your organisation.

Just think – if you find something interesting on the web, how do you share it with colleagues? For the vast majority of people, that will mean emailing it round to those you think might also find it useful. There are obvious problems with this:

  • What about the people you don’t know who might find it useful?
  • What happens when someone has a use for that link six months down the line? Will they be able to find it?
  • What about other, related information that others find? How can it be drawn together?

So, even by just taking the simple example of sharing a weblink with colleagues, we can see that not having social software available can reduce the effectiveness of the use of knowledge and information within an organisation.

There are lots of other examples, though, including:

  • Communicating between teams – how does one team know what the other does? Having a static page describing general activities doesn’t really help.
  • Collaborating across teams and departments – if you aren’t sat near the people you are working with, it’s hard to work together effectively without using social tools
  • Finding people you need – ‘yellow pages’ style people finders suck. How do you find people based on their skills, abilities and talents, not by their job description? How can you locate colleagues who are interested in something?
  • Group editing of documents – how many times have you emailed a document round for review, then faced the unenviable task of updating it in line with everyone’s edits? It’s a nightmare and a better form of collaborative authoring is needed.
  • Sharing personal learning, and making it social – I’ve written a fair bit about social learning spaces here. Most organisations now encourage employees to have personal development plans and to seek out the learning they need to to do their jobs better. What happens to the learning from a course though after someone has attended it? It stays in the head of the individual.
  • Creating a sense of community in an organisation – while face to face events are vital, what could be done online to foster a common sense of purpose and culture?

It seems pretty obvious to me that just as external facing websites should no longer be seen as a medium for pushing content out to an audience, the same is also true of intranets. Actually, it’s probably even more important to ensure that internal systems are as social as possible.

There are a number of ways in which social software can work for better internal communication and collaboration, and a number of different routes to take.

I’ll be looking at some of these over a few posts this week, all categorised together as Working Better Together. I hope they are useful and do please contribute via the comments, especially with examples of good stuff already happening!