What Collaboration Really Means

The word collaboration is so overused and overhyped it’s becoming meaningless. People refer to all software with a social component (Chat, messaging, document sharing, etc.) as collaboration software; and this causes confusion.

Even with the launch of new intranet software and other collaborative tools, some people still suffer from, and complain about, poor collaboration.

This forced us to ponder the true nature of collaboration and explore its many dimensions. Most importantly, we discovered that collaboration is a deeply human activity, and no tool on its own can solve the problem of poor collaboration.

This may seem obvious, but many people believe that “if you build it, they will come”, and if you just launch a tool like an intranet, the magic will happen. We know that organizational culture and managerial practices can either hinder or nurture collaboration, but it took a lot of failure and org dev theory to discover that fact.

A useful definition for collaboration

In response to bad collaboration we wanted to craft a definition that could inspire a more holistic, useful, and simpler perspective. We eventually landed upon this definition:

Two or more people working together towards shared goals.

That’s it — just nine words to define collaboration. It’s a very simple definition. But simplicity is necessary when collaboration has become overly-hyped, where social business vendors are trying to sell new ways of working to confused companies, and where business experts constantly stress the importance of building more collaborative and innovative organizations.

collaboration is

Dissecting collaboration

This simple definition includes three parts:

  1. Two or more people (team)
  2. Working together (processes)
  3. Towards shared goals (purpose)

This definition doesn’t mention technology or software, but it does provide a solid framework for understanding what collaboration is and isn’t.

Continue reading...

Webinar: Are you getting the most out of your intranet?

After working with hundreds of organizations on their intranet projects, a common theme has emerged: Companies seek out an intranet to solve a communication, collaboration, culture, or even a content challenge.

Whether you’re just beginning your project and aren’t sure what kind of objectives to set, or you are further along in your intranet journey and want to see how other companies are solving challenges similar to yours, this webinar will surface best practices that you can start using right away.

Join us and other members of the intranet community on Wednesday, March 28th, to:

  • See what our clients are doing with their intranets
  • Learn tactics around using the intranet to fulfill organizational objectives
  • Have your questions answered by an expert (he has seen it all!)


  • Presenter: Amol Gill, Sales Director at ThoughtFarmer
  • When: Wednesday, March 28, 2018
  • Time: 8:30 AM PST / 11:30 AM EST / 16:30 UK
  • Format: 30 minute presentation + 15 minutes

Learn More and Register

Continue reading...

How to Better Communicate Your Intranet Requirements

Are you a company looking for a new intranet? Are you looking for a way to make your evaluation process a lot easier?

Selecting an intranet solution can feel overwhelming. There are many different products and platforms available, which makes differentiating between them all a little challenging.

Most organizations will appoint a project owner (usually a communications manager, IT manager, or HR manager) to gather requirements from project stakeholders, identify a list of vendors, and evaluate these tools against the requirements to ultimately make a recommendation and selection.

While this process “works” in the way that something ends up being purchased, it often results in the selection of a product that doesn’t quite meet the needs of its users. Software is often purchased based on features, whereas success hinges on its usability. Sure the platform has all (or most) of the features deemed important, but if they are difficult to use, employees won’t be able to get work done.

How can organizations avoid this trap? Capturing the needs of stakeholders is important, but the form of those needs and requirements is critical. A while back we received a set of requirements from a potential client who was in the process of evaluating ThoughtFarmer. They sent us a detailed spreadsheet with their requirements, as expected. But what was different was the way they documented their requirements.

Instead of a list of features written as “the system shall do X,” they instead took each requirement and placed it in the context of the user.

Continue reading...

Recorded Webinar: 10 Key Steps to a New Intranet Solution

new intranet

Are you trying replace your old, barely used intranet? Want a fresh, engaging, collaborative intranet?

Get expert advice on building requirements, evaluating vendors, and procuring a new intranet solution. We’ve condensed 10 years of experience and hundreds of intranet installs into a concise, easy-to-follow 10-step process.

This webinar will help you answer the following questions:

  • How do I align intranet objectives with business goals?
  • How do I write intranet requirements that will deliver on my objectives?
  • How do I evaluate different intranet vendors and ensure their product matches my needs?

This webinar is a companion piece to our Intranet Buyers Workbook. We recommend downloading and reviewing the guide prior to attending the webinar. Whether you ultimately decide to get ThoughtFarmer or another intranet solution, this webinar will make sure you have the right foundation for selecting and implementing a successful intranet solution.

Watch the recording

Continue reading...

The Popular Vote: Our Most Visited Content of 2017

Thoughtfarmer Blog

This year has been an exciting year of “mosts” for us at ThoughtFarmer. For example, we had our most successful launch with ThoughtFarmer 8.5, we hosted our most successful conference with ThoughtSummit 2017, and welcomed the most amount of visitors to our ThoughtFarmer blog.

Having so many intranet-curious folks visit our blog is awesome for a whole host of reasons: it tells us if our content aligns with industry trends, it tells us what type content piques your interest, and it gives us our product team a real insight into how we could plot our roadmap. But you don’t care about that, you want to see our most popular posts on the ThoughtFarmer Blog from 2017, ranked, right?! Well, without further ado:

  1. 25 Creative Intranet Launch Ideas

  2. What is an Intranet? The Definitive Explanation

  3. Cutting through the hype: what collaboration really means

  4. Mechanistic and organic organizations

  5. Use these 14 questions for a corporate culture audit


Continue reading...

Building a Culture of Gratitude with Peer Recognition

employee recognition

Remember that time you accomplished something amazing at work and your colleagues and bosses couldn’t stop praising you? And then you went home, inspired, and ready to do it all again the next day?

If that doesn’t sound familiar, it might be time to reconsider your workplace’s approach to employee recognition.

Over 200,000 employees were recently studied by the Boston Consulting Group and asked what their number one reason was for enjoying their work. The answer?: feeling appreciated. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) compensation didn’t appear until number eight.

None of this is really a shock though, is it?

There isn’t an employee out there who doesn’t want to be recognized and appreciated for their work. Yet sadly, many managers often wait until an annual performance review to deliver feedback. And even worse—the feedback in a performance review tends to focus on negative stuff rather than the good stuff.

When done well employee recognition has a multitude of benefits. From decreased turnover and lower absenteeism, to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction…shall I go on?

Skeptics will argue that recognition programs don’t work, are too fluffy, or that organizations do this stuff solely to make themselves look good. While hopefully that isn’t the case, it’s not difficult to understand where this skepticism stems from. A lot of organizations have failed to effectively implement an employee recognition program that works.

For employee recognition to truly be successful, it needs to be embedded in an organization’s culture, and it must be authentic.

The good news is that Thoughtfarmer has tools that make it easy for organizations to recognize and applaud employees.

Continue reading...

ThoughtFarmer + Google Drive

Google Drive Integration

Those of us familiar with Google Drive love how easily it allows users to store and synchronize files in the cloud, and how easy it makes collaborating with other teams and users. A key component of the G-Suite, Google Drive became an almost overnight hit (there are now over 800 million active Google Drive users), due to the ease with which users could simply transfer and share files securely. With a simple drag and drop, the files were there.

And now, thanks to our recent software update, Thoughtfarmer clients can enjoy all the benefits of file sharing without leaving their intranet.

The latest release of our software includes an improved Google Drive integration option. You can now easily gather any files you have on Google Drive and keep them in one central location on your intranet.

What does it actually do?
Our new and improved Google Drive integration brings all the greatness of content sharing into your intranet. You can easily share Google files and communicate to the entire organization, department, or teams. There is no need to leave your intranet to share and review documents. Also, because both applications sync automatically, your content will always be current.

What about Permissions?
The security permissions within Google will carry over right into your intranet. So, if you don’t have the rights to view a particular Google Doc in Google Drive, you are not going to be able to see it in your intranet. It is therefore important that any document permissions are set up correctly within Google first.

Continue reading...

Simplify Role Clarity With ThoughtFarmer’s Org Chart

Org Chart

In a small organization it’s pretty easy to identify who does what, and who reports to whom. But what about in a large organization? What about in a fast growing company? Or what about during a merger or acquisition?

Without a simple way to understand an organization’s reporting structure, how will employees find the people or information they need to correctly do their job?

As you probably already know, an org chart (organizational chart) is a diagram that displays the organizational structure as well as relationships and reports. It is an excellent way to gain an immediate perspective of all the people within the organization and their roles.

Understanding organizational hierarchy is important—not just for employees, but for an entire organization. When employee roles and organizational hierarchy are transparent, we can ensure responsibilities are allocated to the correct individual.

Some of us may have had negative experiences with org charts in the past—and rightfully so. First generation org charts were often nothing more than a PDF document that reluctantly needed updating every time there was a new employee. They also weren’t interactive, which meant there was no immediate way to directly connect with a colleague, or to update information in real-time.

Our New Org Chart

Thoughtfarmer has removed the pain associated with frustrating org charts and has replaced it with a brand new visual and dynamic organizational chart. Available in the latest release of Thoughtfarmer, it’s a welcome evolution from a traditional list view. Users can now immediately understand the structure within an organization, see relationships, as well as gain a clear understanding of who does what.

Continue reading...

Boosting Engagement: 3 Reasons Why a Social Intranet is Your Most Effective Tool


According to recent studies carried out by Aon Hewitt, Gallup, and Deloitte, employee engagement declined in 2016. Yes, you read that right, it actually declined. While this downward trend is worrisome for a variety of reasons—churn, productivity, and (eventually) profitability—there is a silver lining: the study highlighted three behavioural drivers behind the trend, the effects of which can be mitigated quite easily.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you can nip those drivers in the bud and enhance engagement within your organization.

Open communication.
While organizations are aware that open communication is necessary for engagement, a disconnect on information delivery remains. A joint study between Poppulo and Ragan Communications showed that 99 percent of communicators rely on email as their main news channel, yet Deloitte’s survey indicates that 77 percent of employees don’t think email is an effective way to communicate. This discrepancy suggests that a new channel is required. A social intranet provides your company with the ability to relay all types of content while giving staff an engaging platform to find the information they need. It’s clean, simple, and effective for both employer and employees.

Senior leader visibility.
According to Aon Hewitt’s study, employees no longer look to their direct manager for engagement— they look to their senior leaders, meaning those senior leaders must be more visible than ever. Employees want to get to know the people who are directing them and a social intranet provides an ideal space to do that. Content such as anecdotes, philosophies, and interviews, are all great opportunities for leaders to connect with staff.

Continue reading...

What Would You Do With 28% More Time?

Employee Productivity

In last week’s post we talked about one trade-off to the many benefits of a digital workplace: lots of emails to tend to and lots of digital documentation to sift through. We also noted that a well designed and well implemented intranet could help mitigate the risk of such things happening in your workplace.

This week, we’re going to find out how a well-designed intranet can help you get work done and improve employee productivity.

When the topic of intranets comes up, many people still get confused: they think of it as a one-way communications platform, a quick culture fix, or a crowded document repository. In fact, a well designed intranet is quite the opposite: it can enhance your digital workplace, support your business, and enable employees to find the information they need to effectively and efficiently do their job.

Right now, however, the average worker is wasting considerable time searching for and processing information.

Need proof? A study by the IDC (assuming a salary of $75,000 per year), looked at the average time spent on associated tasks and determined the average cost. Approximately 13 hours per week were spent on email (cost: $21,000), and 9 hours were spent searching for information (cost $14,000). That’s an enormous waste of time and money!

If you haven’t yet embraced collaboration technology like an employee intranet, then you too likely have productivity challenges—or at the very least, are wasting valuable employee time. Again, the proof is in the pudding: according to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, connected employees can improve productivity by 20 to 25 percent which equates to a potential improvement in revenue of up to $1.3 million a year.

Continue reading...