In this famous quote from Act II of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and the fact he is a Montague and she a Capulet (warring families) means nothing to their love.
However, there is some strong evidence from the UK’s Cranfield University – and elsewhere – that the name one gives a project does have a marked impact on the behaviour and motivation of the people involved. It may surprise you, but the name you give to your Intranet Project could well be the most important decision you make in the early stages of mobilisation!
The Direct Approach
There is an argument in faour of naming your Intranet Project the – wait for it – “Intranet Project”! Often, so-called “secret squirrel” names (where one has to ferret out from colleagues what Project Banana is all about) serve only to create an unnecessary air of mystique (fit only for secret M&A projects). They can also serve to be divisive, by separating ‘people in the know’ from people outside the immediate project audience.
The functional approach
A functional name focuses on what the intranet does (e.g. search, find, access). This enjoys the same benefits as the direct approach, but affords one a little more poetic license. What about names like “Project Connect” or “Project Gateway”, which serve to signal the core “must have” requirements for the project?
The conceptual approach
There is a problem with the direct or functional approaches; Research from Cranfield has demonstrated that people on projects tend to be very heavily influenced in their actions by the name of the project itself. If you call your project the Intranet project, it is a working intranet (i.e. the technology) that you will get. If your ambition was something much more visionary, such as a wholly new way of working for your people, you are likely to be disappointed!
The conceptual name targets what is achieved by the functionality, rather than the functionality itself. For example, if your company name was BigCo and your purpose was seeking to get everyone in the company working together, you could call the project “Project OneBigCo” or “Project Unity”. For the aforementioned new ways of working objective, you could use “Project Future Workplace”.
The abstract approach
The abstract approach deals with how the project makes people feel. For example, “Project Bliss” (for happiness), “Project Wizard” (for magic) or “Project Pulse” (for fast-pacedness). Although one world usually fails to capture all you are trying to achieve with an Intranet Portal, this approach can prove highly effective (particularly where counter-cultural).
If all else fails
Nothing grabbed you so far? Well there is no saving you, then! I suppose there are always the standard fallback options: names of greek or roman gods, names of planets, names of birds and names of dances. These have the added value that – if you spawn follow-on projects in a sequence – you have ready-made logical follow-on project titles. Incidentally, “Project Mercury” would be my recommendation for planets or gods (as Mercury was the roman god of communications).
For more ideas on project names, why not check out my presentation in chapter 10 of my (free to access) Intranet Portal Guide.