Thursday, 28 February 2013

Yammer on Tour in London

Today's marginalia are about the Yammer on Tour in London event that took place on 26th February.

It was for me an inspiring day with more than 500 passionate attendees and various speakers talking about increasing the quality of internal communications and facilitating employee engagement inside our organisations throughout the use of Yammer.

I still have to do lots of thinking – and practice - about what I listened to and learnt. Indeed, internal social media is a topic so vast and challenging.

During the day I had the chance to happily write down lots of notes. I would like to share some of them with you by hoping that you might benefit from them in some way.

Some marginalia relating to the keynotes:

Nikos Drakos (Research Director, Gartner):

  1. CLOUD: Everywhere
  2. MOBILE: Anytime (we need to meet our people when people need it, at the moment)
  3. SOCIAL: Everyone (people interacting with each other, socially.This changes the fundamental of management)
  4. INFORMATION: Anything (the information is available to everyone at any time. This changes the way we do things, analyse information)

Within these 4 forces there is something disrupting/distracting: in fact, we like to anticipate things, get predictability...but this is something which is not fit for the next stage.
Therefore, the key message here is: WE NEED TO ADAPT.

Adam Pisoni (Co-founder and CTO, Yammer):

ACCELERATING THE PACE OF CHANGE. Dealing with disruption as a way of life”

Efficiency vs Innovation: efficiency can affect our ability to change. We are often working on the wrong things. While looking more and more at efficiency we are not getting the ability to change. When others figure out what we do and how we do it and they figure out how to do it better than we do, disruption can come very easily.

To improve our products and service we need to be able to adapt.

Key message: do not frame what we do but ask ourself the question: “How can we help our customers resolve their problems?
This is not just a CEO question or a team level question. This is a question for any employees.

Here is where Yammer can help: more transparency inside the organisation; communication throughout the whole organisation. Yammer helps companies being more adaptable, dealing quickly with change.

  1. ALIGN: creating alignment on corporate values to provide the best customer experience; asking employee for personal commitment openly; helping each other more efficiently.
  2. ORGANISE TEAMS on the WAY WE PROVIDE value. Organisations offer products and services that are reflections of themselves; working cross-functionally.
  3. EMPOWER EMPLOYEES to INNOVATE on how we provide value. Employees need to feel empowered in order to find ways to innovate.
  4. ADAPT: (a Japanese term KAIZEN means CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT). It is OK to make mistakes and it is OK to look at constantly improving. “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got” (Henry Ford)

Key message: we all need to ask ourselves at organisational and individual level: What business am I in? How can I innovate?

James Patterson (Chief Product Officer, Yammer):

Yammer enables companies to be more OPEN and they employees more CONNECTED; to make organisations work across 4 information silos easier.

  4. DOCS & APPS

In the second part of the afternoon I attended an interactive workshop: Getting your whole organisation working social.  During the workshop some best practices on how to build a Yammer community inside organisation which improves employee engagement and increase the quality of internal communications were given by LexisNexis, Gatwick Airport and INSEAD.

Some marginalia relating to the workshop:

Laurie Hibbs (HR Director) - talking about the lessons that LexisNexis UK learnt with regards to the use of Yammer inside the organisation.

  • Free love within a framework. Giving people the opportunity to communicate and encouraging them to use the media while at the same time exercising some sort of corporate control; managing the network is important so that people feel it is not a waste of their time.
  • Yammer is about adopting a 'pull' not 'push' approach
  • Content has to be unique to Yammer (e.g. ideal for broadcast information, groups of interests)
  • Make heroes the people who post. Make people feel comfortable. It is OK to practice, encourage people to experiment and not be afraid of trying
  • Getting your executives on board. It can be challenging for many since this requires communicating and writing in a different way. However, if they don't use it people may use that silence as a way for not using the tool either. It is also important that executives posts are genuine
  • There is a link between the social use of Yammer and employee engagement. It seems that the more engaged employees are those who use the social media but you need to constantly nurture communications, collaboration and dialogue
  • New social leadership: Yammer creates new leaders inside the organisation, people who can work in any jobs...Finding them is vital for the company because they are the influencers. Yammer gives VOICE and evidence to them.

Caroline Thorpe (Communications Manager) – talking about the benefits of using Yammer inside Gatwick Airport.

  • Getting all employees in one place
  • A cultural shift and a new way for asking questions. People are not recipients any more, they create news and they tell you what is going on in the organisation. If employees see something to be fixed they say so. This cultural shift leads to many improvements for the business.

Zoe McKay (Project Manager) - talking about the lessons that INSEAD learnt with regards to the use of Yammer inside an international organisation.

  • There is a need for changing the way we communicate by adopting a conversational approach.You no longer are part of the conversation if you want to control it.
  • Yammers changes the way of communicating and addressing problems inside the company across the globe
  • Steering group - having the Leadership team buy-in is fundamental
  • Empowering middle managers to use the media is vital for the alignment of every employees to the corporate strategy. The organisation should give middle managers the power; managers need to feel they are capable of owing it to make its best use.

I would like to express a huge thank you to all the people that made that event so interesting and allowed me - and I believe many more others - to learn something new about this valuable topic.

Revolution happens not when people adopt new tools but when people adopt new behaviours”
(a quote reported during the event by Thomas Scott, Communications Director, Carlson Wagonlit)