Sunday, 23 June 2013

#thebigyak: a truly social learning experience

I spent a fascinating day yesterday at #thebigyak, the internal communications unconference organised by @TheICCrowd. I had been looking forward to attending this event since months ago when I booked the ticket and finally the 22nd June arrived.

A very meaningful day for internal communicators, the biggest opportunity was to feel connected, united by a common passion and interest for the profession, openly and transparently talk, share and learn all together.

I fully enjoyed the social aspect of the unconference. With its unstructured nature, the event gave birth to a powerful sharing of knowledge, experiences, tips, opinions and ideas, among all the participants. The agenda was entirely owned and shaped by us, the attendees.

The value brought by the contributions of everyone – coming from a different range of organisations - was compelling. Relevant, useful discussions and conversations emerged from this type of format.


Indeed, lots of notes to take during the day, something that I did very enthusiastically through the beloved @simplycomm's tweets. Yet, it was the 'artefacts' (as @benjaminellis called them) produced by everyone together that made the real difference and created a huge sense of learning within the group (see the whole storify by @AllthingsIC).

Among the very many topics discussed at #thebigyak I particularly enjoyed the one on internal social media. Below are a few of my take aways on the subject:

  • Today, while everyone seems to talk about internal social media, the topic still appears to be very challenging inside many organisations. In particular, the benefits seem not to be understood enough by leadership. Leaders appear to be especially afraid of losing their power and control. Giving voice to all employees can be seen as a threat. However, internal communicators need to talk with and help them understand the business advantages. For example, social media can allow a company to find and recognise internal knowledge relevant to business innovation. Yet, a 'let go' approach must be put into place. A leader becomes truly social when she/he sees a comment and really take notice of that.

  • The way of living and working of Generation Y will change the way organisations communicate digitally with their employees.

  • The identification of social media mavens - 'champions'- inside organisations is very important to start driving adoption.

  • The role of the Community Manager is crucial to internal social media and should not be overlooked.
  • Considering the company culture of the organisation is a fundamental  prerequisite. Every culture is unique and so it is the internal social media' journey of any business.
  • Social media can been seen as an opportunity for internal communicators for gathering powerful employees' feed-back as well as listening to them. Social media can give better insights into employees' thinking and drive better messages as a consequence. However, rather than being purely messengers, internal communications professionals should be 'conversation makers'. Enterprise social networks can allow these meaningful digital conversations happen inside organisations.                                                        
The event was perfectly organised from the very beginning to the end. I was very pleased to meet many old friends as well as develop new relationships with this amazing community of internal communications people! 

Many thanks to @theICCrowd and @benjaminellis for organising the unconference in that way. Thank you also to everyone who was there to make the day a truly social learning experience on internal communications!

Really looking forward to keeping the conversation going on...