Peer Assist at Social Now 2019

What to do and what not to do on an intranet project (from the peer assist)

This year, for the first time, we had a “peer assist”-inspired session at Social Now. The goal was to offer Cablinc a list of recommendations to help the organisation roll out a successful new intranet.


Peer Assist

In their book Learning to Fly, Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell introduce a peer assist as

a meeting or workshop where people are invited from other organisations and groups to share their experience, insights and knowledge with a team who have requested some help early on in a piece of work.

As Chris Collison points out, this technique is based on peers sharing their experience, rather than giving their opinions.


A Peer Assist for Cablinc

At Social Now 2019, we had a peer assist to help Cablinc as it prepares to kick off their new intranet project.

Cablinc is the fictitious company created for Social Now; Anne McLear is Cablinc’s Head of Marketing and Internal Comms. Anne McLear is responsible for delivering a successful new intranet and she decided to ask for help.

Hans-Juergen Sturm, Head of User Experience & Innovation at Amadeus; Joana Pais, Head of Communications at Sogrape Original Legacy Wines; and Patrik Bergman, Corporate Communications Manager at Haldex, responded to Anne McLear’s request and kindly answered my questions.

Hans-Juergen Sturm, Joana Pais and Patrik Bergman during the peer assist at Social Now 2019

From left to right, Hans-Juergen Sturm (Amadeus), Joana Pais (Sogrape) and Patrik Bergman (Haldex) during the peer assist


The conversation took us through the drivers for a new intranet, the team required to make it happen, the launch and the metrics to evaluate the intranet’s impact in the business.

At the end of the 40-minute conversation, all participants were invited to discuss at their tables and identify one thing for Cablinc to do and one thing for Cablinc to avoid in their intranet project.

The dos and donts derived from the peer assist at Social Now 2019

Jan Kees Fokkens puts on the board the “dos and donts” identified by his table after the peer assist


Here is the compiled list of things to do and things to avoid.


  1. Find purpose and set goals
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Listen to your end-users’ needs
  4. Listen to employees and stakeholders to understand why the organisation needs a change
  5. Focus on pain points and low hanging fruit
  6. Get executive involvement and sponsorship from CEO and
  7. Build cross-functional team
  8. Identify ambassadors
  9. Co-create, i.e. involve employees in the process
  10. Engage diverse groups (hit all departments)
  11. Involve as many people as you can
  12. Make sure employees own the project
  13. Pick a tool which suits the culture and the business requirements
  14. Dimension the tool in order to be transversal to the whole company, making sure it doesn’t exclude anyone
  15. Build a comprehensive change plan
  16. Promote a fully aligned top-down communication
  17. Find a catchy name for the intranet
  18. Make it clear “what’s in it for the workforce”
  19. There must be a need to go to the intranet
  20. Allow room for growth and learning
  21. Measure progress against business objectives
  22. Give it time to develop and grow as a “have” for the employees and the supervisors to reach their goals


  1. Do it alone (single department)
  2. Forget to involve employees at all levels
  3. Start with the solution
  4. Select a tool based on promotion or marketing
  5. Just buy a tool because others have chosen that one
  6. Make it “another tool”
  7. Treat it as a corporate communication project or as an IT project
  8. Do big bang launch for the whole intranet
  9. Focus analytics only on activity numbers
  10. Obsess over metrics (vanity figures)


A couple of people identified the peer assist as the best session of the whole conference, a credit to the rich experience of the peers and the open way in which they shared it with the rest of us.

I would have liked to have a few more minutes for the conversation with the peers. Additionally, it would have been good to hear from the other participants in the room.

I feel like the dynamic between Hans-Juergen, Joana and Patrik was really good and the conversation flew very well. It was a good opportunity to learn from real-life experiences of delivering new intranets, while simultaneously getting a taste of the value of peer assists for knowledge transfer.