“What’s in a name? That thing we call a rose
By any other word it would smell just as sweet.”
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 that he is a Montague and she is a Capulet (families at war) means nothing to their love. .
However, there is strong evidence from the UK’s Cranfield University, and elsewhere, that the name given to a project has a marked impact on the behavior and motivation of the people involved. It may surprise you, but the name you give your Intranet Project could very well be the most important decision you make in the early stages of mobilization.
The Direct Approach
There’s an argument in favor of naming your Intranet project the – wait for it – “Intranet Project”! Often so-called “secret squirrel” names (where one has to find out what Project Banana is about) only serve to create an unnecessary air of mystique (suitable only for secret M&A projects). They can also be divisive, separating ‘people in the know’ from people outside the project’s immediate audience.
The functional approach
A functional name focuses on what the intranet does (eg search, find, access). This enjoys the same benefits as the direct approach, but gives one a slightly more poetic license. What about names like “Project Connect” or “Project Gateway”, which serve to point out the basic “must-have” requirements for the project?
The Conceptual Approach
There is a problem with direct or functional approaches; Cranfield’s research has shown that people on projects tend to be heavily influenced in their actions by the name of the project itself. If you call your project the Intranet project, that’s a working intranet (ie technology) you’ll get. If his ambition was something much more visionary, like a whole new way of working for his people, he is likely to be disappointed!
The conceptual name points to what is achieved with the functionality, rather than the functionality itself. For example, if your company name is BigCo and your goal is to get everyone in the company to work together, you might call the project “OneBigCo Project” or “Unity Project.” For the goal of new ways of working mentioned above, 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 rhythm). Although a world often fails to capture everything it is trying to achieve with an Intranet Portal, this approach can be very effective (particularly where it is counter-cultural).
If all else fails
Nothing caught you so far? Well, there’s no saving you, then! I guess there are always the standard backup options: Greek or Roman god names, planet names, bird names, and dance names. These have the added value that if you build follow-up projects in a sequence, you have logical follow-up project titles out of the box. By the way, “Project Mercury” would be my recommendation for planets or gods (since Mercury was the Roman god of communications).
For more project naming ideas, why not take a look at my presentation in chapter 10 of my Intranet Portal Guide (open access).