10,000 buddhas
Photo credit: John Seb Barber

Intranet and digital workplace teams face huge problems. One really tricky one is how to choose what task to do ? Do you :

  • Jump for the most senior person’s request ?
  • Do what will help front line staff ?
  • Shore up the foundations so the whole thing doesn’t collapse ?

We all know that time is limited – so you can’t do all the 10,000 or limitless things intranet teams need to do. So think about how you decide. Do you have a documented method ? Is your method consistent ?

I’m here to tell you that if you answered Yes to either of these questions I’m impressed and you can stop reading now and go and do the next thing on your list. If you aren’t sure about your answer I’ll give you a tool that will help you. It’s called heuristic analysis, and that is just a fancy way of finding a reasonable solution. The trick with this technique is to work out what is important, and I’m sure you know what it is. But it is useful to put that into a table so that you can explain to your boss, and their boss, and ….. so on why you made a particular decision to not put their cat on the home page.

Digital workplace heuristic template

Our goal: We need a way to choose what the intranet team should work on next ? A ranking of the 10,000 tasks that could be done.

Our method: Define assessment criteria.

  1. What does our organisation want to achieve?
  2. What do the intranet team think make deliverables successful?
  3. What constraints exist?
  4. What is the task like ?

Then assess some of the things from our list of 10,000 that we have to do and see if the item ranking makes sense.

1 Organisational goals

The digital workplace team should know what the organisation is trying to achieve, the organisation’s mission. Choose the 5 most important items and note them down.

Examples for a training provider:

  • More students completing courses (thus more income).
  • Reduced tutor turn over (thus lower on boarding costs).
  • Employer preference for students of this training provider (thus better outcomes for graduates).

2 Criteria for digital workplace success

Get the intranet team to come up with the top 5 or 10 things which the digital workplace should deliver. If you’re short on time here is a list

  • It makes staff work easier.
  • It is visible.
  • It is valuable to everyone OR to high profile staff.
  • It is politically useful.
  • It generates demand from the business for more from the intranet team.
  • It adds directly to the key deliverable for the organisation e.g. more sales or better patient outcomes.
  • It builds trust in what the intranet team can achieve.

3 Constraints on intranet teams

These are the things that the intranet team know make delivery of projects and tasks difficult. Here are some examples

  • Team member skills
  • Budget available
  • Time available
  • Senior staff support
  • Number of other parts of the organisation involved

4 Task details

This is where a list of tasks and key information about each one is created.

  • What size is the task ?
    • small / medium / large [just take a guess at this, compared to other tasks on the list]
  • Who does delivering the task benefit ?
    • Directly benefit
    • Indirectly benefit

Digital workplace task analysis

Get your intranet team into a room, and lock the door for 2 hours 🙂

Elicit from them your organisation’s goals, things that make work they’ve done successful, and a list of constraints. Add any you know need to be in each of these 3 lists.

Take a break, then come back and get everyone to list all the things that they can think of that need doing no matter how hairbrained or crazy. The goal is to get all the items into one list. Then ask everyone to come and indicate the ones they think are most important. With this “most important list of tasks” put them up on a white board, or paper in the left hand side of a grid. Across the top of the grid list the top 5 organisational goals, the top 5 criteria for success of intranet tasks and the constraints.

Her is a google sheets example of an intranet tasks heuristic analysis. As you can see it is OK but I think most organisations will want to giver slightly different weightings to different columns depending on their priorities.

By doing this on a white board you are doing two things:

  • effectively paper prototyping the model
  • building consensus among your team regarding the model

Once you’re done you’ll have a list of tasks that you know are worth doing and that you can explain to your boss and their boss and …

Good luck. Let me know how you adapt this model for your own super cool digital workplaces!


I’ve been asked what why do I talk about the 10000 things ? It is originally a Chinese saying, that I discovered in talking with Zen practitioners. I understand it as everything or all that distracts you from becoming enlightened. There is a more in-depth description on Rover Jack’s Zen Reflections blog.

Do you know which of the 10,000 things to do?