The Foreign Service Journal - April 2017
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APRIL 2017


steadily growing each month since


Making It Happen

Here are a few keys to upgrading an

intranet at post:

Top-level sponsorship.

A project like

this can’t be a skunk works. Change is

difficult and will inevitably face some

institutional resistance. Strong sup-

port from the top, in this case from the

management counselor and regional

information management officer, will be



It’s tempting to make

something that looks like a flashy com-

mercial website. It’s better to keep it

simple. Try to make important con-

tent reachable with one or two clicks

from the homepage. This is especially

important in areas with low-bandwidth

internet or latency issues.

Use what you have.

MIX doesn’t

use custom software code and was

designed to be imitated. The depart-

ment’s current application, SharePoint

2010, offers many features and widgets

that can be used by posts without exten-

sive modification.

Online content.

For a successful

intranet, content is king. Writing for the

web is unique and potentially power-

ful. For example, sentences tend to be

shorter and more active, while bullets

and white space help make text more


MIX includes brief articles about

town halls, a new metrics-based

management program, takeaways from

important visits and other topics so that

everyone can benefit from common

information. A photo-sharing feature

was designed to introduce new people

at the embassy.

Of course, developing a cadence of

compelling articles and video—and

deploying the right people to write

and edit—remains a big opportunity.

Ideas include analyzing components

of the Integrated Country Strategy and

providing updates that everyone should

know, even if outside their day-to-day

work. The best cables and ideas at post

could also be showcased. If you publish

meaningful content, people will come.

Dedicated staff.

Someone needs

to be in charge of the structure and

maintenance of the intranet, as well as

coordinating and encouraging content

owners. Since an intranet is 10 percent

technology and 90 percent content, the

ideal person is a tech-savvy writer/edi-

tor who enjoys the challenge of online


In Mexico City we ultimately cre-

ated a new LE staff intranet manager

position to ensure MIX would continue

to gain momentum. Most companies

have someone dedicated to running

their intranet, and the role is also key

to ensuring attention and improvement

for a post’s intranet.

Finally, content owners need ongo-

ing training and support from their

bosses and should include their intranet

duties in their work requirements.

Revamping an intranet takes more

time than might be expected. But there’s

huge potential benefit from helping

make our processes more efficient and

our workplace more collaborative.


We ultimately created a new LE staff

intranet manager position to ensure MIX

would continue to gain momentum.