FastTrack Customer Success Methodology in action with Simon Denton from Mott MacDonald

This week to coincide with Microsoft’s Ignite conference in Atlanta, we thought we would publish two episodes of The Yaminade.  Our first guest is Simon Denton (@buildbod) from Mott MacDonald.  Simon is a Office Servers and Services MVP from the United Kingdom who was one of the first people in the world to lead an Office 365 adoption program based on Microsoft’s FastTrack Customer Success Centre guidance.  In this episode he shares how Mott MacDonald leveraged FastTrack to accelerate their time to value with Yammer and Office 365.

Episode 18: Yammer, SharePoint, Office365 Groups, Skype for Business or Email? What tool to use when with Richard Harbridge from 2toLead

With so many technology options in your organisation that enable people to collaborate or work better together, it is sometimes difficult to understand what tools you should be using, let alone have a way of articulating what to use to your peers.  In this episode of The Yaminade we talk to Richard Harbridge from 2toLead.  In this hour long chat we riff about adoption and usage of different collaborative features of Office365 — but instead of talking about “Yammer adoption” or “SharePoint adoption” — we look at how you can take a business process view to realise better results for your organisation.

Links to all the things we talk about during the episode are below:

Episode 12: Using a framework to guide your enterprise social efforts with Scott Ward from Digital Infusions

Ever wished there was a simple framework you could use to guide your tactics when building a community on a enterprise social tool like Yammer?  After conducting research at Sydney University into building communities on social media, cheap Scott Ward (@wardsco) decided to build that framework – BITIL.

BITIL brings simplicity, seek structure and focus to social media undertakings that can be used to measure and assess the activity and quality of communities; build strategies and drive community engagement toward specific business objectives.

Built from years of experience, sovaldi experimentation and research the BITIL Framework is founded on the five key elements and over two-hundred and seventy sub-indicators common to high performing social media communities.

Scott founded Digital Infusions in 2011, and now works with Governments and Large Corporates across Australia to help them unlock the value of Enterprise Social.

We recorded this conversation in a VERY noisy cafe whilst Scott was visiting Brisbane – apologies for the background noise.  Considering how noisy it was when our impromptu podcast recording occurred, it is a reasonably clear episode.

Episode 9: The best bits of The Yaminade – 2014 Edition!

I was going to end the year on a high with The Yaminade – but to be honest episode 8 where we discussed how to use Yammer at a conference or event left me a bit disappointed.  So I decided to release one more episode of the podcast this year – a “Best of” podcast.  In this episode I share with you my favourite parts of the seven interviews about Yammer and Community management to date.

In this short and sharp episode you will hear:

I hope you enjoy it!  Let me know what you think below – and if you haven’t already – make sure you subscribe to (and review) The Yaminade on iTunes or your favourite podcast service!

See you in the new year!

 

Transcript of Episode 9 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to this latest episode of The Yaminade, the podcast dedicated to building bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. You can find me on Twitter @paulwoods. I want to be completely honest with you, I published it a few weeks ago, it wasn’t the standard that I set myself for this podcast. So what I wanted to do was make it up to you all today and do a Best Of Episode, just like a family sitcom. I’m going to cut to my first seven episodes and we’ll forget about Episode 8 for now and listen to some of my favourite bits from Sarah, Rhiannan, Stan, Stefani, Steven, Simon and Hayley and hopefully for those of you who are new to the podcast, it will provide a great introduction. For those of you who have been following along for a while, here are the things to remember and apply in our workplaces. When we kicked off The Yaminade in Episode 1, we talked to Sarah Moran and we talked about the fear of doing the wrong thing in the Yammer network and community and touched on the implications that has for policy as well.

Paul: What kind of things should we be posting, what shouldn’t we be posting? Is there any guidance you’d like to give?

Sarah: It’s not what should or shouldn’t we do, but what if someone posts something bad. And that’s difficult because it’s covered in every other policy. Like, you know it’s covered in Sexual Harassment, etc. Just because the technology has created a different system, it doesn’t mean your system of communications changes.

Paul: If someone said that at the water cooler, the same rules apply, right?

Sarah: I think it was The ABC adopted a 4 line social media policy and the essence of it is actually one like and it’s “don’t be dumb!”

Paul: Exactly, “your name is on this!”

Sarah: Yeah, I was like “don’t be an idiot, and you’ll be fine!”

Paul: I don’t know if that keeps the lawyers happy though, that’s the only challenge!

Sarah: And it doesn’t stop the idiots!

Paul: I like the approach. The policy already exists: sexual harassment, how to you communicate within a brand and external communication, it’s all there…

Sarah: Tone of voice is within the style guide…

Paul: Alright, let’s think about Episode 2 with Rhiannan Howell and she talked about growing her network sustainably, aligned with some leadership events they are running and other events they ran on their Yammer network.

Paul: What strategies did you put in place to get past that 50% watermark of having the organisation in the network?

Rhiannan: We had a specific strategy around opting-in.  We really didn’t want it to be bare. The Director General said “thou shalt join” so people joined. To get people on board, we used a face-to-face opportunity we were running across the state in a series of leadership roadshows where our leaders were going out and talking to people. We used it as an opportunity to soft-launch Yammer. We weaved it into our innovation key messages and said “there’s a platform here we’ve made available, give it a go, jump on board and tell us what your ideas are”. It’s particularly important for people who thought they were too buried in the hierarchy to get their ideas heard. That was really our linchpin in launching and that was in February this year.

Paul: So you position it as a tool to capture ideas and align with this roadshow. What happened after that, did you see a huge explosion in uptake after these events or was it sustained over time?

Rhiannan:  Probably in the first six weeks it was explosive and then as everyone experiences, there was a degree of slowdown, but we have around 10-15 people joining every day and that’s been pretty constant for the last month.

Paul: Now let’s go to Episode 3, perhaps one of my favourite interview throughout the entire Yaminade process so far, with Stan Garfield. It’s probably also the most commented on and Tweeted, this idea of SAFARIs that Stan talks about. I just want to replay that.

What tactics do you use to share those tactics and communicate those user cases? Are you running workshops with change champions that have taken that message out to the audience? Are you just sending a blanket email to everyone and hoping for the best? How do you get those reluctant adopters across the line by sharing these stories?

Stan: You have to try multiple approaches. One way is through training and awareness and mentoring and individual one-on-one handholding. Other ways are publishing information that people can consume. Hopefully it’s not just viewed as some sort of broadcast email but it’s more tuned to what people might pay attention to. Another way in which we’ve tried to do it is to have a simple and easy to use device to remember what the recommended user cases are. I came up with an acronym for that. So instead of saying “hey everyone, start using Yammer to collaborate” which is easy to ignore, what I said was “there are seven uses for Yammer and those can be remembered in the acronym: SAFARIS” so we put a picture of a giraffe on a slide and the seven letters of SAFARI, share, ask, find, answer, recognise, inform and suggest. I’m able to rattle those off to you not because I’m looking at them but the acronym makes it easy to remember. If people can remember the giraffe, the word SAFARIS and run through those letters, they’ll know that these are the seven things that Yammer does best. Even if you can only remember the first three: share, ask and find, then that’s a pretty good start. Spreading that message around, having that image appear on screens in offices, conducting regular training, having people able to ask questions about how they can more effectively use Yammer and sharing the stories. Then Yammer allows itself to be a great place to gather stories. Let’s say you post a question to Yammer and I answer you and you respond saying “thanks Stan that was very helpful, that allowed me to solve a problem I was struggling with” I can capture that thread as a success story and nobody needs to do any extra work, you don’t need to write it up or disseminate it.  I just share that into a collective group called Yammer Wins so when someone says “prove it to me that this is worthwhile” I can say “don’t take it from me, here, read this thread from an actual user and see how this helped them”.

Paul: In Episode 4, Stefani Butler, a Community Manager from Microsoft talked about whether you should you hire from inside or outside your organisation when looking for Community Managers.

A lot of the people I’ve talked to in the past and listening to this podcast have this vision of being a community manager or curate communities professionally, not just being .2 of their role in HR or Communications. Have you seen anyone transition from a traditional organisation role into a community management role? If so, what kind of things have you seen people do to make that transition? How have they created that vision or built the business case in their organisation to bring on that full-time community management capability?

Stefani: It’s a two-fold answer to your question. I have not witnessed someone transition per-se, I have witnessed customers transition their thinking about the day-job community manager role in the organisation to now creating a full-time equivalent resource. I have seen that and we’ll speak about that. I have seen someone attempt to transition into a full-time community management resource and that was a difficult transition because she did have the executive support and the C-suite support and the business strategy was to have her transition into a full-time resource, but quite honestly I did not get the impression that she was ready to be a full-time resource. Why is that important? When I think about it from a CSM standpoint – and I tell customers – when you’re going to add a layer onto what they’re already doing or transition them into a full-time resource, make sure that they’re passionate about this. One person said “this person is responsible for that line of business, they own that relationship, it’s natural that they would become the CM, the Community Manager” and that might seem logical in theory, but if the person is going to resists the social experience and be what we would consider at Microsoft a yellow or a red dot, I would encourage them to partner that person or identify someone else closely aligned from a similar skillset who is passionate about it, because you cannot have dispassionate community managers. You have to have people who are really good at it, or who will nurture it and are really good at it or can be developed in it. I think that’s about as simple as I can make it. I’ve seen customers transition their thinking around community management by adding a full-time resource. Not a whole lot, but we see them picking up momentum on this. I know three from the top of my head that from a confidentiality standpoint I won’t share without asking my fellow CSMs, but three customers I know who have added a full-time resource of Community Manager to their organisations. I commend them for that because it is a full-time job. I’d say that at the risk of people disagreeing with me. When you’re maturing your network, you can add that layer on to people who have capacity. It was definitely an add on to my position and I was a global lead for a division for internal communications and I did have a significant amount of accountability but it was something I was passionate about, so CMing didn’t feel like another layer, do you know what I mean?

Paul: If you were going to give someone a full-time community management role, would you bring someone in from outside of the organisation with fresh eyes or someone from inside who already knows how the company works?

Stefani: It’s a good question. I think it hinders on what the organisation has said their purpose is within Enterprise Social. We have customers who are approaching this experience still from a traditional standpoint and they still want to do the one way push and integrate that with their SharePoint intranet and really still control the message and engagement. If that’s the case, I would not bring somebody external into that experience. That’s neither good nor bad, I just want to make sure that if they develop, hire or create a CSM full-time role and do things they are traditionally do things the way they’ve done them, why not nurture and develop someone who is used to that. On the flipside, if they said “hey, we’re used to working this way but we want to explore a new way of working” then I’m a huge advocate from bringing in someone from outside, bringing in fresh thoughts and ideas, because you want to mix up the flow and the norm. You want to bring somebody who may not be used to doing things the way they have always been done and quite honestly someone who challenge the norm and I think an external hire is really well suited for that.

Paul: Brilliant. In Episode 5 with Steven Piotrowski. We talked about getting the attention of time-poor people. So for everyone in your organisation, how can you get them to care about and engage within your Yammer network?

So building up the Yammer community in a professional services organisation where everyone is too busy because they’re out billing with customers and they have their administrative job after hours where they do their timesheets and all the paperwork… and obviously the distributive nature of the organisation, how did you get people’s attention? How did you get them into that community into when they had that constraint of “I don’t have time for this?”

Steven: I think that is always a constraint with anything new and Yammer isn’t an exception in that scenario. Any new project or effort you have, you’re vying for people’s time, so you have to connect it to something they care about. My approach was to hark it back to my days as a consultant at Deloitte, to enter and become my own internal management consultant to them. I was using the network to see who the early adopters of the platform were, who were contributing to it and trying to get something out of it. Early on it was quite easy to see who those folks were. I would phone them up and explain that I had seen their activity on Yammer and ask them what they were trying to accomplish. I’d explain that I had seen them on Yammer and if I could help them. Then we’d talk about what collaboration meant for those colleagues. What was interesting about those conversations was that colleagues always thought they had great methods for themselves for how they got that information, shared ideas and sought ideas from others. The more you talk about it, the more you see friction in so many aspects of work with their team and stakeholders and the more distributed those relationships got, the more frictions there were. What that did was really open up a door to talk about how Yammer and SharePoint could help reduce or eliminate those frictions. It was a great entrée into those conversations. What would happen was one of two things: Not everyone is going to bite, due to the time constraint. Some folks said “no thank you very much” others said “oh my gosh, I need you to sit down with my team and I want my team agreeing that we are going to collectively begin to work like this” and those were the people I knew I had hooked and were going to become success stories in the network.

Paul: In Episode 6 with Simon Terry, we start talking about accountability in networks because if you think about it, when you’re in a network and don’t have that hierarchy, then how do you hold people accountable or how do people hold themselves accountable for what their actions or commitments they make in your Yammer community?

How do we hold people accountable when everyone is there’s no clear hierarchy of a reporting line? Maybe spend a little bit of time talking about the content you have been writing about accountability… I think that’s really valuable in the context of what we’re talking about here

Simon: I think the key to the points I have been exploring on my blog are that when you start to think about what accountability means… we have a traditional view of what accountability means in a hierarchy which is when other people use their hierarchical power to hold me to account. We actually know that that’s not a particularly effective form of accountability because it relies on the people in that hierarchy to know what’s going on, following through on their threats of negative penalties and as we all know in hierarchies there are all forms of ducking and diving and weaving on accountability. Often, the accountability is only one way, from the top to the bottom. There’s no accountability back up from bottom to top because senior executives are held accountable by boards and shareholders and they are often remote don’t understand the particular issues that the organisation would like the executives to be accountable for. What I think is interesting is when you change the frame and say “what does accountability look like in a network?” and that’s if you don’t hold up to your integrity, commitment and promises you’ve made in the network, you’ll find yourself losing trust. As you lose trust, you lose influence. As you lose influence, networks will route around you and stop dealing with you and deal with others instead to get things done. That concept of the network thinking who they can rely on to get things done works both ways and enables people to get stuff done without enforcement processes.  It’s a natural process of “I don’t like that person, I’ll follow someone else”. That mindset of a very agile network of accountability is really at the heart of what responsive organisations is all about.

Paul: It’s not just a Yammer natural selection, it also applies in the physical world just as equally as in the digital world.

Simon: Yeah, this is a social process. One of the things I love about social business is that it forces us to rethink management in terms of how humans behave. We already naturally avoid people we can’t trust and spend time with people we can trust. Trust is the most sophisticated algorithm that is built into the human brain. We can manage really complex trust relationships with hundreds of people and know who we will work with and who we won’t, we make judgements quickly and evolve those judgements as new things occur. Being able to leverage that, rather than fixed, arbitrary hierarchies and processes. One of the things that happens in hierarchies is that it’s ok to let down other silos, you just never let down your own because you’ll be held accountable by your own, but your own may not hold you to account for how you’ve let down silos. That creates terrible dynamics within an organisation but when you’re talking about a network, when you’re working with these people consistently, you don’t let them down because you’ve got to build and maintain a relationship with trust.

Paul: I can’t think of an organisation where that isn’t an issue. As soon as you’ve got more than two teams it becomes an issue!

Simon: Because we are humans who value relationships, what you create immediately when you talk about trust, is a personal accountability. That’s not something that is imposed, it’s coming out of me, I want to be that person in the relationship and I have to live up to that. I think creating a personal level of accountability is much more powerful than anything externally imposed.

Paul: Absolutely.

Then in Episode 7, the last good episode before that terrible one in Episode 8, Hayley Bushell shares with us her top three things she thinks people should do when starting their Yammer network.

Hayley: I would personally recommend the sync tool. Even if people don’t join but at least if they are aware, even if their team isn’t using it, they might not be exposed to that network to get on… that whole syncing with your Director, even if they just see the name…

2) Get your middle management on board.

Paul: [Laughs] steal the middle management from Workcover

Hayley: No, don’t steal them, we want them. Middle management create the excitement and set the tone for our people. They’re a great asset for Workcover and if you can get that middle management… even if you get ten on board and get them championing it to other managers that would really help!

3) Community Manager, can I say that? Get a Community Manager!

Paul: Very good.

So there you have it, there are my seven favourite parts of the first seven episodes of The Yaminade. Once again, thank you once again for your support over the last nine episodes. Thanks to those of you who have downloaded episodes of The Yaminade and tune in each week, I really appreciate your support and look forward to it moving into the New Year.

For those of you who have listened to the podcast and would love to share your story on The Yaminade, please drop a line with me on Twitter: @paulwoods and I’d really love to have you on an episode of The Yaminade in the New Year. All the best for the holiday season, thanks!

 

Episode 6: Executive Engagement in Enterprise Social Networks / Work out Loud Week with Simon Terry

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the world’s leading minds when it comes to how working like a network can drive real business performance for organisations large and small – Simon Terry.  Simon is currently a consulting working with organisations around the world grapple with digital technologies and disruption – but previously he was the CEO of one of National Australia Bank’s businesses – HICAPS.

In this episode Simon shares his thoughts regarding how executives and their management teams can use enterprise social tools like Yammer to increase employee engagement, and ultimately drive real strategic outcomes.

For the second half of the episode we discuss the upcoming Work Out Loud week from 17 November.

 

Resources from this week’s episode of The Yaminade:

Read more of Simon’s work including his posts on accountability in networks

Other great people mentioned during this episode and their content:

John Stepper@johnstepper

 

Harold Jarche@jarche

Bryce Williams@thebryceswrite

Jane Bozarth@janebozarth

Johnathon Anthony@thismuchweknow

Austen Hunter@austenhunter

Luis Suarez – @elsua

Eric Kraus@erickraus

Transcript of Episode 6 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of The Yaminade. My name is Paul Woods and I had the great pleasure of talking to a digital transformation innovation and leadership expert. A lot of people in Australia know this man and his baked goods as well. Please welcome Simon Terry to The Yaminade.

Simon: Thanks Paul, it’s great to be here and I love the baked goods reference!

Paul: You make my mouth water every night when I see a fruit loaf being posted on Twitter! Follow Simon on Twitter @simongterry and you can follow the baked goods’ story. But that’s not why I invited him here today. First of all, he is one of the few people I’ve sat down with over the years and I’d rate our conversations as one of the top three lunchtime conversations I’ve had in my lifetime around business, performance and things within the Yammer community that we like to talk about such as working out loud, working as a network, etc. Hopefully the conversation we’ll have today will reflect the one we had a long time ago in Melbourne and give you some insight into the way Simon thinks about these things. Secondly, he’s had some good experience in lots of organisations including National Australia Bank (NAB) here in Australia and he was a CEO for one particular part of that which was HICAPS and I’ll get Simon to explain a bit more about that in a second. Finally for the last half of this podcast we’ll talk about something called working out loud and Work Out Loud Week which Simon has lots of great things to say about that. Simon, would you like to share your time at NAB and Yammer story as an executive at HICAPS?

Simon: Thanks Paul, it’s great to be on the show and thanks for setting the bar so high in terms of this conversation. I was an executive at NAB for over twelve years and experienced a variety of roles within that organisation. About half way through my journey at NAB, they began to use Yammer. Like many organisations back then, it started in the organisation virally. One of the things I first noticed and experienced at the time was that it was a great opportunity to create new conversations that cult through silos and connect through the organisation and enabled people to share information and connect in a really rich way. What was also evident at that time is that it had begun virally, it was unofficial. There was a real need for some leadership support, connection and sponsorship. Gradually, through a variety of roles that I had within the organisation, I got drawn into sponsoring unofficially and help shape the community with a community of champions, it wasn’t just me, I was just one we realised there was this fantastic leadership opportunity. I was CEO of the HICAPS business. HICAPS is a health insurance claiming business owned by NAB. It has a fantastic position in the Australian market, but it’s a small, standalone business in a very large financial services group. I had some fascinating insights of how Yammer could help a small business like that. To give you an example, many people didn’t know that NAB owned HICAPS as it is very separate, it has its own location and premises. The opportunity to use Yammer to work out loud and tell my story of running the HICAPS business and connect the rest of the NAB organisation to a successful business that they ran and to leverage the rest of the organisation to address the challenges of HICAPS: being able to get technology expertise from our Yammer network to talk about problems we had within HICAPS, or in one particular situation we had an outage in the HICAPS business. In that situation, NAB branches would often get queries from customers about HICAPS, but they weren’t used to finding information as it wasn’t on the radar for branch staff, so Yammer offered this fantastic opportunity where I, as CEO, was able to work out loud through the incident as it occurred, explaining to everyone on Yammer what we were trying to fix and how long the system would take. That was a great thing to be able to communicate all of that to customers of NABS and HICAPS. That opportunity really pulled me into the power and passion of enterprise social solutions like Yammer. Now I spent my time helping organisations to leverage enterprise social and collaboration and also thinking about how leadership has to change in this new era where the enterprise is much more networked.

Paul: Absolutely. That’s a great story and outcome about the power of a well-managed, well-engaged network on a community such as Yammer. How did the Yammer champions get your attention, to formally get you engaged?

Simon: For me it was driven out of my understanding of NAB’s strategic objectives and particularly among those objectives, its cultural transformation objectives. With a good understanding of the group’s strategy and what the group wanted to achieve as we moved forward, you look at what’s going on in Yammer and see positive outcomes towards group strategy. You saw frontline customer staff raising problems they had and asking Head Office to fix them. You saw people getting better information on the strategy and asking questions and clarifying what the strategic intent of the organisation was.  You saw people innovating together, actually getting together and saying “hey, I’m really interested in this new technology, how can we use it in the organisation?” and these really passionate and engaged threads where individuals who really believed in the potential of a particular piece of technology came together with people who’ve had the opportunity to apply it. I think the other thing which can’t be ignored is that all of this is visible, it’s all public.

All of this was going on in the organisation but they’re hidden. As you know being an executive, that the first thing is to have a sense of what you can see in the organisation before you can even start to make changes. That ability to see what was going on and to realise, as an executive, I could join those conversations and make a significant effort to help people. It wasn’t about making orders or telling people what to do. In most cases it was about me bringing my network to individuals who were really keen to make change. But  I, as an executive higher up the hierarchy, was able to get them leverage and the ability to do that and make simple gestures to enable people as I knew they had those problems, that showed me there was massive strategic value in a tool like Yammer. So we, very quickly in NAB developed two themes on our Yammer network.

One was around what we could do to foster collaboration for the purposes of innovation and the other was to share the type of leadership we wanted to grow in the organisation. Those two things set us up very well for the future development of the organisation. Out of those two things sprung focuses on things like Lean and continuous improvement and process improvement, customer experience design. When you get into those areas, the strategic value of collaboration and enterprise social networking becomes clear pretty quickly. For me it was initially about the potential and what we thought we could achieve. Because it was very business focus, it wasn’t a coms strategy issue or an engagement issue, it was very much around “hey we can use this to get stuff done that we can’t do”.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. Did you have any backlash from your peers within the organisation? People like running other businesses within NAB, or was everyone on the same page, let loose, go for it?

Simon: Backlash is probably too extreme. Bemusement is probably a better word. Lots of the leaders at NAB understood the strategic rationale therefore I can honestly say most people were incredibly supportive. The bemusement came amount because:

  1. How do you find time to do it? I’m a busy senior executive, too busy to check my email, how do you find time to spend on Yammer?
  2. I’m not familiar with it, why would it make sense? Isn’t it a distraction from your daily business?

I saw it as a fantastic way to run my business more efficiently and a great way to connect with people that would help my business so I wasn’t in the realm that I thought it was costing my business and I didn’t get a huge return

Paul: Yeah, the time you’re spending –

Simon: – My email dropped. Because the HICAPS business wasn’t very well known in NAB, one of the things that became an accidental side product of the CEO of HICAPS’ role, was that was the job everyone could find if they wanted to ask a question of HICAPS. What my inbox was full of was people who wanted to ask questions of my team but routed them through me. Once I started using Yammer, people posted to Yammer as they knew it was somewhere I was always available. My team realised that if that question was related to them, it was probably a good idea that they answer it directly. What I discovered was that those questions had been posted in Yammer and answered by team members of mine and I didn’t even need to deal with them. So you started to see people realise that there was a better way of getting problems solved, getting communicated and every one of those answers became public, became searchable and people said “I always wanted to know how you did that”. A lot of those opportunities increased influence and productivity. As you know, I was the Senior Executive and it influences your commodity of trade. As you know, it’s far easier to build your influence through Yammer than something like email.

Paul: I’ve been following a number of your posts on your Tumblr feed around accountability and what we talk about with executives around “how do we hold people accountable when everyone is  there’s no clear hierarchy of a reporting line?” Maybe spend a little bit of time talking about the content you have been writing about accountability… I think that’s really valuable in the context of what we’re talking about here

Simon: I think the key to the points I have been exploring on my blog are that when you start to think about what accountability means… we have a traditional view of what accountability means in a hierarchy which is when other people use their hierarchical power to hold me to account. We actually know that that’s not a particularly effective form of accountability because it relies on the people in that hierarchy to know what’s going on, following through on their threats of negative penalties and as we all know in hierarchies there are all forms of ducking and diving and weaving on accountability. Often, the accountability is only one way, from the top to the bottom. There’s no accountability back up from bottom to top because senior executives are held accountable by boards and shareholders and they are often remote don’t understand the particular issues that the organisation would like the executives to be accountable for. What I think is interesting is when you change the frame and say “what does accountability look like in a network?” and that’s if you don’t hold up to your integrity, commitment and promises you’ve made in the network, you’ll find yourself losing trust. As you lose trust, you lose influence. As you lose influence, networks will route around you and stop dealing with you and deal with others instead to get things done. That concept of the network thinking who they can rely on to get things done works both ways and enables people to get stuff done without enforcement processes.  It’s a natural process of “I don’t like that person, I’ll follow someone else”. That mindset of a very agile network of accountability is really at the heart of what responsive organisations is all about

Paul: It’s not just a Yammer natural selection, it also applies in the physical world just as equally as in the digital world

Simon: Yeah, this is a social process. One of the things I love about social business is that it forces us to rethink management in terms of how humans behave. We already naturally avoid people we can’t trust and spend time with people we can trust. Trust is the most sophisticated algorithm that is built into the human brain. We can manage really complex trust relationships with hundreds of people and know who we will work with and who we won’t, we make judgements quickly and evolve those judgements as new things occur. Being able to leverage that, rather than fixed, arbitrary hierarchies and processes. One of the things that happens in hierarchies is that it’s ok to let down other silos, you just never let down your own because you’ll be held accountable by your own, but your own may not hold you to account for how you’ve let down silos. That creates terrible dynamics within an organisation but when you’re talking about a network, when you’re working with these people consistently, you don’t let them down because you’ve got to maintain a relationship with trust.

Paul: I can’t think of an organisation where that isn’t an issue. As soon as you’ve got more than two teams it becomes an issue

Simon: Because we are humans who value relationships, what you create immediately when you talk about trust, is a personal accountability. That’s not something that is imposed, it’s coming out of me, I want to be that person in the relationship and I have to live up to that. I think creating a personal level of accountability is much more powerful than anything externally imposed.

Paul: I think accountability in management in general is one of those things that as a manager myself and you being an executive that we try to align the business strategy and make sure people get done what needs to get done. It’s great to see some of that thinking coming through. Let’s switch tact a little bit, moving from your work at HICAPS to what you do today. Let’s talk about working out loud and Work Out Loud week which is coming up soon. Just a quick definition of what that is and where it’s come from?

Simon: Sure! The most common definition of Working Out Loud was originally proposed by Bryce WIliams who is from Eli Lilly. He’s involved with a lot of their content management, making your work visible, plus narrating your work. Talking about the process of working out loud and helping others engage and learn from your work. The really powerful about Working Out Loud, is that people think you’re bragging out loud and that it’s a process of describing about all the great things you’re working on. Working Out Loud isn’t talking about outcomes, it’s actually a practice of talking about what you’re doing now. It’s to describe uncompleted work and the process you’re going on with, a couple of things become possible. Firstly, other people might know how to help you complete that work. Secondly, people might have ways to tell you that you’re going wrong, or ways to help you work faster. But if you’re making your work transparent, other people can benefit from it and apply it. I’ve really got more and more into the practice of Working Out Loud. I’ve found an increase in my personal productivity because the more I share what I’m working on and thinking about, the more I discover great inputs coming back, great suggestions of ideas and people who want to work with me on particular topics, who are inspired by particular ideas or people who tell me I’m wrong and suggest a better direction to go. I think that’s a valuable piece of work.

To give you an example, the IP I had about what makes a Yammer network successful. I was finding that very hard, doing it on my own as a consultant, so what I did was Work Out Loud with a few individuals I knew and respected. I was putting all my IP out on the table everything out on the table for people to do what they thought with it. What I found was incredibly powerful. Everyone respected the fact that I was prepared to share stuff that wasn’t quite right and still needed developed. I got amazing feedback in the ideas people gave me that I would never have thought about in relation to that work. They started to create opportunities for me to use it and say “oh you should see this work that’s being developed by Simon, you should really have a chat to him about it” and they’d make introductions for me or help me grow the work in particular ways or make suggestions as to how I could use it.

Paul: So you not only have fast feedback that helps with the development of those ideas in getting them conceptualised and onto paper but they also help you share that knowledge more effectively also  because they connected you to people within their network.

Simon: Exactly. Because they had seen things in places which we had built together, they had more trust in these ideas and to stand and advocate them to others. Fantastic opportunities… I use this model to create value in these networks. You need to think about connecting people, sharing information, solving problems and then innovating together. It’s a bit of a maturity curve across those four steps. A fantastic thing I’ve found is that Working Out Loud is a fundamental accelerant across those four stages. It starts to accelerate the process of creating value in these networks because the more you surface work, the more easily you can make sure workers align to the strategic outcomes that they should be aligned to. You remove duplication: in any large organisation, there are at least two people working on the same thing and you don’t know it until they start to work out loud, or at least one of them works out loud and the other says “hey, I’ve already done that”. I think those kinds of opportunities come when people are more transparent. But at a personal level, the learning opportunities of Working Out Loud are phenomenal: changing your mind-set.

One of the things my blog has become is a process of personal management out loud. You mentioned my accountability posts before, that was me trying to work through what accountability meant on the blog, with the danger of people who knew better could tell me I was wrong but they could come in and tell me what other things I needed to consider as part of that process.

Paul: That’s a good problem to have, if people are coming in and telling you how to improve what you’re thinking about. I wouldn’t say that was a danger, I’d say that was one of the best opportunities of working out loud, getting that fast feedback, even if you’re completely on the wrong track, it enables you to get back on the straight and narrow and explore what you’re exploring.

Simon: I agree, Paul. But the way we traditionally think in management is the danger. Being found wrong is a danger, whereas you and I know that fast feedback and getting on with highly-productive work rather than grinding away at things that are no longer going to help you is a significant advantage.

Paul: It’s almost an idea of saving face, about people who are trying to save face and be correct all the time, when the ultimate way to save face is just to get better outcomes

Simon: Yeah, I’d much rather be judged on my outcomes than the process.

Paul: Absolutely. So Working Out Loud week is coming up soon and we’re recording this on 4th November which is Melbourne Cup Day. Just to say it’s a public holiday where Simon is, so I appreciate taking time off on your holiday to chat to me. Working Out Loud week is coming up in the middle of November, would you like to give me an overview about what it is, what are the goals of the week and how can participate in Work Out Loud week?

Simon: There are a number of people around the world who are big fans of working out loud and related practices like sharing your work. They believe strongly in the idea that this is beneficial to everyone in the way they work. What Working Out Loud week is, is an opportunity so celebrate that practice out loud and give people who might be new to Working Out Loud the opportunity to try for a short period of time. A week isn’t too long out of your life to give a try to a new practice. The reason we don’t have Working Out Loud day is that we think it’s a habit and we encourage people to put a bit of effort into it over a consistent period of time. The more you try it, the more benefits you realise. Working Out Loud week is from 17-24th November this year, the simplest way to get involved is to just start working out loud. Whether that’s in social channels externally, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or as simple as making your work visible by putting post-it notes around your work space to make your colleagues aware of what you’re doing. What we star to notice is that people engage in new interactions and meet people who can help them and that’s what we’re looking for. With people who have a bit more experience with Working Out Loud, John Stepper who has a great blog at johnstepper.com has a great talk on Working Out Loud that he has up on his blog there and we’d encourage people to present that talk or their own talk to their peers or people within the industry. We’d love to see people getting the message out about Working Out Loud. The focus of the week is to enable people to get involved in Working Out Loud and to work with others to watch what’s going on.

Paul: Are there any particular people that you know will be Working Out Loud that we should look out for?

Simon: I’ll be there, so you can follow that. You’ll see John Stepper @johnstepper and johnstepper.com. Jonathan Anthony from TMWK @thismuchweknow on Twitter. He has a fantastic blog with great insights on Working Out Loud. If anyone wants to know more about Jonathan, he worked out loud on a Pecha Kucha about Working Out Loud. Austen Hunter @austenhunter on Twitter is another exponent of Working Out Loud, as well as others around the world, people like Harold Jarche, Jane Bozarth who has really championed Show Your Work and a number of people getting involved. We have a Twitter account @wowweek where we collect and share best practices around Working Out Loud and a blog at wowweek.com where we reposting and linking to fantastic blog posts and other materials about Working Out Loud from around the world. What we’re trying to do is make Working Out Loud as accessible and visible for people who would like to get involved or just see what it does.

I think the point I mentioned before is that this doesn’t require you to make your entire life transparent on external social media. Working Out Loud is just a practice in questioning what you’re doing and how that could be shared with others. It could be as simple as post-it notes or just a poster in your office. It doesn’t have to be digital or external but the more you make it available to your network, the more opportunity there is for others to get involved.

Paul: I think it would be a great idea to work out loud about Work Out Loud, posting pictures or comments to @wowweek account on Instragram or Twitter, that would be a great way to show your success and challenges. One question in the back of my mind is that people who are new to Working Out Loud, there’ll be a cultural dip they need to go through before all their peers in the organisation accept what they’re doing “why on earth are you talking about what you’re doing?” Is there one piece of advice you would give? How do they manage the expectations and attitudes of others?

Simon: It’s a great point and for me the first thing to do is to go into it with the humility to realise you might be wrong and that you are learning and to express that viewpoint to other people. My sense and experience is that people are amazingly generous when your intent is to be more successful and help the organisation. It’s not about you, it’s about the work that you’re doing and achieving better outcomes, whether that work is personal or part of an organisation. Don’t assume that what you’re doing is obvious to other people. The reason Work Out Loud involves that step of narrating your work is that it actually enables you to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Narrating the fact that you’re working out loud because you want help and you find it challenging and this is what I’ve learned today and this might be of value to you… you start to do that and going back to my experience at NAB, when I started using the Yammer network extensively, it was unusual for a senior executive to do that. So I had to narrate what I was doing “I’m sharing this with you because of this reason and I think someone might be able to help”.

Another piece of advice comes from Eric Krauss who wrote a fantastic blog piece about it, “don’t try to be interesting, try to be interested”. You are not looking for praise, you are looking to share it with people who are doing that kind of work. You might actually share it in response to other people’s materials “hey that’s great, this might help you, these are some things I’ve been doing” if you adopt that humble learning approach and narrate your work and remember that your goal is to build a connection with people through this process… often the way to start is by making contributions to others, not necessarily by posting stuff. If you look out for that opportunity to share your work in response to the work of others, and John Stepper has some great stuff on this, it’s very hard for people to find that strange or worthy of criticism.

Paul: That makes perfect sense to me. I think there’s lots of value in what we’ve talked about today, we’re only just scratching the surface of the Simon Terry story and some of the thoughts and things you’ve posted on your blog or worked out loud about over the last year or two… I think we could probably record six or seven episodes like this just full of great content from yourself. To wrap up the episode, I’d like to give you the opportunity to share some of the resources you’ve been talking about, your blog so other people can connect straight into yourself and go straight to the source

Simon: I’m @simongterry on Twitter and a lot of the sharing you’ve described, including the pastries, goes on there. There’s also a pastry blog, but we’ll skip over that for present purposes. My main blog is simonterry.tumblr.com which is where I work out loud on some of the concepts and try and share that IP I’ve been working on how to manage collaboration in social networks. A lot of thinking about the future of work and responsive organisations. They are the principle resources.

Obviously if anyone is interested in getting in touch, feel free to get in touch via Twitter or any of the other channels

Paul: Supberb! Simon Terry, thank you so much for sharing your insights on working out loud. Thanks once again

Simon: Thanks Paul and thanks for the opportunity

Episode 5: Steven Piotrowski from Microsoft (and Aon)

On today’s episode of The Yaminade – the podcast dedicated to helping organisations build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer

Imagine being able to harness the power of 36 000 smart and talented people around the world… and knowing they had your back when you were working with a customer?  Today’s guest – Steven Piotrowski was recently the global collaboration lead that helped create a strong and flourishing knowledge sharing community at global professional services/HR firm Aon.

By using tools such as SharePoint and Yammer, Steven and his team were able to bring people closer together, enable the re-use of knowledge within the organisation, and ultimately amplify the success (and revenue) of consultants around the world!  It is a great story and you will definitely get value from some of the insights Steven shares from that environment.

After his success at Aon, Steven joined Microsoft as an Office365 customer success manager.  Later on in the episode we discuss some of the real world conversations he is having with customers to improve knowledge discoverability and sharing using Yammer, and other tools like OneDrive and Delve.

Remember… the Yaminade is in it’s infancy – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form.  If you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

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Transcript of Episode 5 of The Yaminade

Paul: HI everyone and welcome to The Yaminade, the podcast dedicated to helping organisations build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. I’m your host, Paul Woods and you can find me on Twitter @paulwods. Thank you so much for tuning in to Episode 5, I can’t believe we’re up to Episode 5 already, time flies when you’re having fun so a big thank you to everyone who has supported the podcast so far. You can show your support by leaving a review on iTunes, just search for The Yaminade on iTunes or you can follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theyaminade, find us on Twitter @theyaminade or our website www.theyaminade.com

This morning I have the great pleasure of talking to Steven Piotrowski from Microsoft. Steven is a Customer Success Manager who has just recently joined Microsoft, similar to Stefani Butler from Episode 4 so for most of the podcast we don’t talk much about his time at Microsoft, but about his previous life where he led the knowledge manage initiative and knowledge sharing initiatives for global professional services, HR, reinsurance firm Aon. I think you’ll really get a lot of value about the discussion we had as he goes into detail about how he aligned projects to various specific business strategies and objectives. We both agreed through the Episode that it is a really important aspect of ensuring your community has legs and is sustainable in the long term. Totally by coincidence, Steven is the third episode in a row where I’ve talked to someone from Chicago: Stan Garfield in Episode 3, Stefani Butler in Episode 4 and now Steven Piotrowski in Episode 5 all from the Greater Chicago area, so I think that might be enough from that part of the world now. Unfortunately being in the East Coast of Australia talking to people in Central Time in the United States means a very early start for me. You can tell in this episode as my voice is a little bit of a morning voice, I had been awake for about 7 minutes when we had started this call. But the content is well worth it. Please welcome Steven Piotrowski to The Yaminade.

Steven: Thanks for having me, glad to be here.

Paul: Thank you so much for making the time to appear on the podcast. The reason why I was really interested in talking to you today, just like Stefani, it wasn’t too much about your life as Customer Success Manager, as you’ve only been in that role since about June and we’ll get to that later in the episode. What I’m really interested in is your previous life and roles and how you used Yammer to do some pretty amazing things. Can you give us a little bit of a context as to where you’ve come from in your career and some of the things you’ve picked up along the way as you’ve come to this crescendo as Customer Success Manager at Microsoft?

Steven: Crescendo? I like the sound of that. In some respects it does feel like that because it allows me to mix a few things I’ve done over my career and pull them together. I joined Microsoft in June and it’s been a fun ride so far. Before Microsoft, I spent four years with Aon. Aon is a risk brokerage and HR advisory firm and knowledge is at the root of much of what they do in the professional services industry. What I was doing at Aon is helping push forward a knowledge sharing strategy to bring colleagues together to help provide access to and the best information and examples of the service offerings that we provide customers available to find them. Colleagues were always starting from an end-point of a product rather than reinventing the wheel every time they engaged with a customer.

Paul: Just to put that into context, how many employees is that and how distributed? Was it just the US operation or was it much broader than that?

Steven: This is where it gets fun. Aon has around 65,000 colleagues across the globe in about 500 different offices in 150 different countries, so as you can tell it’s a pretty dispersed workforce, when you think about the scale of some of Aon’s global customers, the need and ability to connect colleagues together to provide a cohesive story and service delivery becomes essential. And that’s really what we were trying to get to.

Paul: That makes perfect sense. Sorry to interrupt, keep going on.

Steven: I was responsible for this knowledge sharing program. One was how to get insight out there around who a colleague us. This is to do with their internal professional profile, something akin to an online curriculum vitae, like LinkedIn, for lack of a better term. The second one which is what really brought me here to Microsoft is that I owned the Yammer network. When I was pulled in to the project, there was a handful of people who had tried yammer and we had a bunch of fledgling networks all across the globe and we wanted to unify them to help realise the knowledge sharing vision of bringing the global firm together. That’s where I spent about a year and a half of effort getting the network unified and getting colleagues to understand the value of the tool and help them understand how to incorporate it into day-to-day workflow.

Paul: You mentioned a project. Was it a formal project by the business or this grassroots campaign that informally turned into a project and took it on yourself?

Steven: This is where Aon aligned very much with the way I advise my customers today at Microsoft and the way I always have throughout my entire career. Products are most successful in my mind when they are linked to a strategic goal of the business. In this case, the knowledge sharing at Aon absolutely was. It fell within a tier of projects on the CEO’s agenda which was called Unmash Talent with the focus on Aon’s colleagues to create a work environment that allowed for greatness to be demonstrated and delivered across all facets of the organisation whether that was internally through efficiencies or externally through fantastic customer experiences. So knowledge sharing at Aon was tied to a strategic initiative and that’s the advice I’d give to my customers today: If you want broad acceptance of a project, particularly an enterprise level project, connecting it to something that many of the folks at executive level care about and they themselves are trying to drive toward and achieve, it’s going to get you the biggest level of attention and resources behind it, and the colleagues are going to understand why it matters. That’s exactly what Aon has done with the knowledge sharing program as a whole.

Paul: And obviously there’s a really strong executive sponsorship from the leadership team because it’s directly aligned to the strategy of the organisation and ultimately aligned to the money they bring in every day by allowing people to do this work with customers?

Steven: That’s exactly right, Paul

Paul: What I would be interested in hearing is if you could break down that process that you and your team went through during the year or two when you worked specifically on trying to establish Yammer as the tool that allows people to find that expertise and unlock inside what’s in people’s heads within the organisation.

Steven: There’s a lot going on there. Aon is focused on three or four pieces. The first piece was helping to get access to the people. Who was those subject matter experts? In a professional services organisation, that is the project you deliver so how do you know that you’re bringing the right product to the right business or customer scenario? To be able to understand that, you have to know who has the skills within the organisation? Focusing on profiles and making that information accessible and sociable so colleagues didn’t have to play the phone game all the time, they could just do a few searches and get some leads. The second part of it was really around the knowledge, the outputs of the subject matter experts that we deliver to the customers. These are the intellectual property, the next thoughts and how services and products progress, those outputs. How do we make those outputs available to colleagues? That, oftentimes is often a conversation starter while you’re trying to find the right expertise to sit in front of the customer and show them where you’ve been successful in the past and clearly articulate what the firm can do for those customers.

The third piece was around the collaboration. How do you help colleagues work collectively together to create those outputs? That’s really where the Yammer piece fit in.

The final quadrant, if you will, around what they were trying to build, at this point I know that they have deployed it, was bringing all these capabilities together in an updated and refreshed intranet which becomes the way colleagues view the organisation each day they come in and open up their browser.

Paul: One place to go, you brought all these different aspects of the world together. So if I’m a consultant in Australia and working with a customer here and I have a specific challenge I’m facing, I can not only find the documentation from previous projects that were delivered around the world but I can find out who the subject matter is and I can engage with them using the Yammer network as a way to engage these people around the world?

Steven: That’s it!

Paul: Very good. So building up the Yammer community in a professional services organisation where everyone is too busy because they’re out billing with customers and they have their administrative job after hours where they do their timesheets and all the paperwork…  and obviously the distributive nature of the organisation, how did you get people’s attention? How did you get them into that community into when they had that constraint of “I don’t have time for this?”

Steven: I think that is always a constraint with anything new and Yammer isn’t an exception in that scenario. Any new project or effort you have, you’re vying for people’s time, so you have to connect it to something they care about. My approach was to hark it back to my days as a consultant at Deloitte, to enter and become my own internal management consultant to them. I was using the network to see who the early adopters of the platform were, who were contributing to it and trying to get something out of it. Early on it was quite easy to see who those folks were. I would phone them up and explain that I had seen their activity on Yammer and ask them what they were trying to accomplish. I’d explain that I had seen them on Yammer and if I could help them. Then we’d talk about what collaboration meant for those colleagues. What was interesting about those conversations was that colleagues always thought they had great methods for themselves for how they got that information, shared ideas and sought ideas from others. The more you talk about it, the more you see friction in so many aspects of work with their team and stakeholders and the more distributed those relationships got, the more frictions there were. What that did was really open up a door to talk about how Yammer and SharePoint could help reduce or eliminate those frictions. It was a great entrée into those conversations. What would happen was one of two things: Not everyone is going to bite, due to the time constraint. Some folks said “no thank you very much” others said “oh my gosh, I need you to sit down with my team and I want my team agreeing that we are going to collectively begin to work like this” and those were the people I knew I had hooked and were going to become success stories in the network.

Paul: When you met with those teams, did the passion and enthusiasm with that particular manager translate to the rest of the team or was it a hard slog to achieve that level of awareness of the desire of what we can achieve if we transition some of the work we do into an Enterprise Social like Yammer?

Steven: Here’s where that was interesting, because I saw varying examples. For managers that were very close, and this is just their leadership style, to their team, they had already painted the picture and paved the road before I turned up. Their teams were like “we’re so glad you’re here. In speaking to our manager, he totally gets that we have a hard time here, here and here. So let’s talk about those areas”. When that manager wasn’t that close to their teams and they had just tapped someone on the shoulder and said “Hey I think you have had this conversation with Steve about Yammer” and provided that context, then it was that tough slog. Clearly the former conversations were so much more fun and productive and the adoption and conversion happened so much faster than the latter.

Paul: Exactly. I’m thinking about the scale and complexity within the network are as significant as the Aon one. Are there any Yammer Wins where you think “that was so worth it going through all that work to bring these people together”?

Steven: You know what? There’s no one. Because these experiences were so individual, I stopped looking at them in their uniqueness. What was interesting to me was the growth of the network as I had those successes along the way. When I started with Yammer in April/May 2013, there were a few thousand users across multiple networks. The first thing we had to do technically was bring those networks together and integrate it with the environment and slowly we had communications and created minor awareness, never really a launch, and that’s when I began all my grassroots consulting within the organisation. Each person I was able to convert, multiplied and amplified my ability to do that. Each week I had more and more of an influx of people who would call me because their manager would call for insight and guidance and they had discovered who I was through the network or hearing about a peer having this conversation. More of those were coming my way than I had time to feel so I had to be more strategic about who I went to. The more I saw that happened, the more you saw that network multiplying effect and before I knew it, when I was transitioning from Aon to Microsoft about a year later, we had around 36,000 colleagues who had signed up to the service. It’s that milestone for me that was the exciting one. Each of those wins leading up to that culmination.

Paul: You really put that into perspective. If I was a consultant working on a customer site, being able to tap the brains of 36,000 people… the power of that and the amplifying effect for that one consultant let alone all the other networks affected by that is huge.

Steven: That’s what customers are buying. In some cases a consultant is fantastic in front of the customer who is in the room at that moment. But the customer understands that they’re paying a rate that not only includes you, but the whole organisation. And that’s their expectation. An organisation that works in the services industry like that, the more apparent and transparent that you can make that transition to everyone around you, the better those customer experiences are going to be.

Paul: Exactly. I think that’s a nice point to wrap up the discussion about your role at Aon but before that, if you had your time again at Aon, what would be the three things that you would do differently that would improve your success of the level of engagement within the community?

Steven: Three things? I’ll pick one. I was very good at being the one in the room doing the consulting. It was so much of my career it was something I enjoyed. It helped me impart the knowledge and helped me get the teams who I was advising up and running on Yammer. I think there was an opportunity for me to turn that into method. Some of that method has shown up on the YCN, there’s a maturity model that I put out there that helped me, but I think there’s more that I could have done for the folks internally. In essence, heading those teams that once those teams had crossed the proverbial finish line and produced a success story, say “here’s the playbook, guys, I need you to be out there” I think they did that in references, but giving them the tools to help facilitate those conversations and continue to push how colleagues within Aon could work out loud and work social like a network, that would have been a really big one.

Paul: That makes sense. I guess my question now is, at Aon, it sounded like you had a pretty good run and a lot of success. Why would you want to leave there and go to Microsoft?

Steven: A few things. One, being in that advisory role even as an internal consultant reminded me how much I love being with customers. The second thing was watching an organisation transform itself online. That to me was the most amazing thing being the Community Manager, the Network Manager for Aon, I was able to appear into the behavioural changes of colleagues well beyond the four walls of our office in downtown central Chicago. To see the transformation and people come into the network and openly ask questions, even if they thought they were dumb questions… there’s no dumb question, right? To see those folks transition from asking to sharing, I thought if I could do this sharing and help colleagues make these behavioural changes to make us a more transparent, knowledge-orientated company, I have to do that for a lot of other places. That’s where I picked up the phone and I have a great relationship with some fantastic Customer Success Managers at Microsoft and began the process. Lucky for me it ended in my own success story. It’s truly how I view it.

Paul: Exactly. You’ve been there for five months now. I and other people from the YCN would be interested in is that transition from an internal role to an externally focused role at Microsoft. Are there any other challenges you’ve faced, particularly making that transition? What about any war stories from your engagement with customers?

Steven: There’s two I’ll talk about. One is what it means to leave your room: Enterprise Social and join the Yammer network. The second is getting back in front of customers and talking about the products. That’s a shift in the nuance of how I’ve been with customers previously. Typically it was a services industry where, “if you don’t like the service you’re getting, let’s talk about it on the fly and establish goals that we both care about”. With the product, it’s a little bit different so I’ll talk about that as well…

For the first piece around the network… what was interesting was that towards the later stages of my ten years at Aon, I became known as ‘the Yammer guy’. You hear across CSMs, “oh you’re the Yammer guy?! How are you everywhere in the Yammer network all the time, don’t you ever sleep?” Yeah I did sleep, but I was having a ton of fun, working hard being visible and making the connections. When I came to Microsoft and truly saw how the Microsoft team works inside Yammer, particularly the customer success organisation… it goes from high-school football to pro… that’s the way I think about it…

Paul: Just without all the money!

Steven: They embraced the work out loud culture and everyone challenges each other to continue to demonstrate those behaviours and think through other ways that is possible. This expands into the second part I want to talk about, the product as a whole. The CSM organisation lives and breathes by working out loud and CSM itself. So everything we bring to customers starts with our own organisation, right? You can think about the progression… customers who started with Yammer, then our transition to Office365, we as CSMs, and it’s clear even before I joined, the team has been doing that long before. Learn what the tools can do, play with it in a ton of different ways and walk into customers with ideas that we have tested where we know work and circumstances where they fall down. When a customer says “we want to try this”, we can actually say, “we’ve tried that experiment and used this combination of Offic365 tools to see these outcomes, but if you tweak it this way and add a note to it, think about sharing more broadly, the SharePoint piece linked in Yammer, then try it this way, we’ll have a much better output”. What that does is helps the conversation with customers to think about their user cases without as much trial and error that would be there otherwise.

Paul: That makes perfect sense. I’ll just echo that point as well: having enough knowledge about the products to be able to solve a problem. It’s a powerful discussion you can have with the customer when you can give a few options to solve that specific problem for that customer, not just a generic “here’s a brochure, this is what I can do, move on” type conversation.

Steven: I think you’re bringing up an important point here, Paul. Every time I’m in a conversation around the tools themselves, you can easily get overwhelmed with all of the things the tools can do. Where that becomes salient is when you start asking and transitioning from the tool conversation to the “how do you work today and how could you better work tomorrow?” discussion. That’s when it’s less tools and more about “how do I begin to reduce friction in this one area?” Then the tools become easier to identify and the functions within those tools that are going to help you get to that better place of working collaboratively with your colleagues. If I want one thing for folks listening to this to think about, it’s to pull away from that tool-focused discussion and think about where colleagues have a hard time collaborating together, interacting with each other, bridging time zone gaps, bridging geographic gaps, get it down to where individuals need help connecting then the solutions become much easier to envision and more tangible to explain.

Paul: Exactly, because you have something to ground the conversation in rather than “this is what this button does and this is how you connect people together”. There’s that business context and value which makes it easier to talk about. You started talking about user cases. What I’d be interested to hear is some of the more unique user cases or some of the things a little bit out of the field where you thought “ah that would be an interesting problem to solve, let’s see if we can solve it with the tools we’ve got here”?

Steven: One is one that I’ve been playing with my knowledge sharing background… My knowledge sharing exposure started long before Aon. The question of how do you curate content and how do you help colleagues begin from a point that isn’t a point of origin in their own silo. One of the things I continue to tinker with is “how do you help colleagues think of the work they do at two key points if not others…?” When I begin a new task, pause and stop, keep yourself from jumping in and put a little plan together and how do I get it done? Do a little bit of research. Do the research in those collaborative places where you know your colleagues are. That’s where Delve really comes in and it’s been great for me in accomplishing this thing, as well as OneDrive and SharePoint, not to mention the conversations that are playing out in Yammer. I have found that a few hours of research on a topic puts me in a far better place to structure a plan that is grounded in others’ experiences which already starts me off from a place where I can avoid a handful of pitfalls or avoid going into a ditch.

Paul: For the people listening to the podcast who aren’t familiar with Delve, which I think is the best thing ever since sliced bread, can you give us an overview of what Delve is and how you can use that tool in this context?

Steven: To me, Delve is the full manifestation of one of the many things that Office365 can bring to organisations and individuals. It takes signals from each of the workloads. So SharePoint, OneDrive… it’s going to continue to expand from there… and begin to create connections around who has liked a document, who has shared a document with you, etc. It takes all these signals and you can go in and see a homepage and see content that the system thinks is relevant to you that day. Beyond that, you can search things you are explicitly looking for and it will crawl across the groups, emails, where there are individual connections between people and surface content. If it’s out there in Office365, then you can find it. Not all of that is there today, some of these links are still being built, but already it’s a fantastic way of surfacing things that others are doing things that could be really close to what you’re doing, and you might not even know about it.

Paul: Discovering content that might be valuable for you, but also when you’re looking for content and knowledge, it’s that extra level of relevance and closeness because it’s building on the relationships that you have with other people.

Steven: To close this piece, the second part of that is the end of that knowledge life cycle. If I’m ending my project with research, I should be ending my project, understanding that someone out there wants to do research. Even If I’m in the early stages of changing the way I work to work as a network and work out loud, at a minimum in my efforts and thinking about what I learned and where my inputs and outputs were and putting them into the Office365 space (SharePoint, OneDrive), or using Delve or other tools, it enables somebody else to start up where I left them. I view it as the courtesy I owe them for the amount of time I invested in something, so they wouldn’t have to start from a place that I was when I was at, three months before I completed it.

Paul: The organisation has invested a lot of time and money to pay your salary while you’re trying to solve that problem. If you’re a good corporate citizen, you need to pay that back so other people don’t redo that work all over again. But from a personal point of view, if I knew someone in the organisation had just solved disheartening situation for myself. Actively sharing the outcomes that you get from this work is paramount when you’re engaging these communities.

Steven: There’s a second piece that I’ll add to that. Not only do companies want to get what they can for my salary and what they’re putting in to me, but the company wants to grow and evolve. The way you do that is not by talking to these people who are there all day every day. Innovation happens when you connect colleagues who are within different pockets or circles of the organisation. You never know when an idea or output that you landed on will be that innovative spark, but if you don’t put it out there, I can guarantee you it won’t be. So getting it out there becomes so important just to enable those connections and ideas of individuals, the right insights that those concepts push the outer boundary further out.

Paul: Exactly. It’s an interesting point that you make there that I’ve discussed with a lot of people within the YCN about innovation and generating ideas and how you encourage innovation process. I think you’ve hit a really important point, it’s not a formal process where you ask people to submit ideas for approval to then become innovative ideas that then become some sort of project, it’s about putting things in there where sparks could happen and that informal way of making sure people share ideas and you can share two ideas and create a new idea, I really like that, the power that drives innovation, even though you don’t have a formal innovation program around it.

Steven: The foundation of innovation is sharing

Paul: Absolutely, I agree. That’s been really interesting. You’ve had a stellar ride there across Aon and Microsoft with Yammer and community management now broadening out across Office 365. A lot of people listening to the podcast can’t draw on Delve or OneDrive because they’re sitting in HR or internal coms or other parts of the business that might not have any influence. What I’d be keen to hear is for those people in the Yammer network just starting out, what would you recommend to them to ensure their network grows and they encourage the level of engagement that you’ve seen at your time at Microsoft and Aon? What would you say to those Community Managers, whether they are formal Community Managers or people doing it just for the love of it, to ensure their success long term?

Steven: Great question. Regardless of your network size, you can’t go it alone. As much as it feels like you need to be in the network making connections, you need to make your own connections outside of the network too, so you can get your own scale as that is a big part of it. The second one is success stories. There’s a reason why you hear Customer Success Managers talk a lot about success stories because they do the selling when you’re not there. In addition to recruiting folks to help you, put in their hand the stories and tools for them to be in the position to help their colleagues along, even just a bit.

The last part, which is what I’ve had a chance to do now, is to take a look at what you’re doing in the network. You need to make sure that the network is doing what you want it to be doing: growing in the right places, having the right kind of conversation and tone in the way colleagues interact with each other. You’re a strong influencer whether it feels like it or not. You really influence how people behave, so get out there and show what right and what truly working out loud looks like!

Paul: And lead from the front. Lead by example. Thanks for taking the time to talk through some of your experiences, it’s been really insightful for me and I’m sure for other people who are listening to the podcast on their commute or in the office today. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it and look forward to chatting to you in the future.

Steven: Thank you, Paul. I’ve been listening to the podcast and I’m becoming a fan. I’m glad and honoured that you’ve included me in this project. I think it’s tremendously valuable to everyone out there trying to set this up. It’s not easy, it takes effort but the rewards are there for individuals as well as companies, so thank you for the opportunity!

Paul: Not at all, catch you later

Stefani Butler

Episode 4: Stefani Butler from Microsoft (Delphi, Zimmer & Rolls Royce)

The focus of today’s episode of The Yaminade podcast is focused on building community in the manufacturing and automotive industries.  I had the pleasure of chatting with Stefani Butler – who just recently joined Microsoft as a Yammer / Office365 Customer Success Manager – but over the past 10-15 years has held numerous human resources and internal communications roles in organisations like Rolls Royce, Zimmer, and most recently Delphi.

Stefani shares her story in the episode and we touch on a few topics which will be top of mind for a number of listeners – including:

  • Getting executive buy in on your enterprise social project.  Stefani shares a great story about a two day executive retreat where the discussion was lead on the Yammer network – increasing engagement and helping the executive team to make more effective planning decisions
  • Her experience supporting and growing a community on Salesforce.com Chatter (an alternative enterprise social network to Yammer) – and the challenges she had to overcome as she worked with that community beyond their sales organisation
  • The role that human resources and internal communication professionals need to play when it comes to enterprise social
  • The call for more professional community managers!

Remember… the Yaminade is in it’s infancy – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form.  If you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

  1. Share The Yaminade with your friends, peers and co-workers!
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Transcript of Episode 4 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone, this is Paul Woods, @paulwoods on Twitter and welcome to Episode 4 of The Yaminade, the podcast dedicated to helping organisations build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. I’m really excited to share this episode with you I recorded earlier today with Stefani Butler. Stefani is a Customer Success Manager with Microsoft who recently joined the organisation to help organisations like yours get more value out of Yammer and the Office365 platform, but more importantly before she joined Microsoft, she had a wide and varied career across HR and Communications roles within the manufacturing industry. She shares some very interesting stories around how she’s built community from the HR and communications angle through a number of different organisations over the past 10-15 years. I really hope you enjoy the episode. If you really like it, please leave a review for us on iTunes or podcasting program as well and share with your friends and peers or people within your organisation.

For more information on things we talk about make sure you visit theyaminade.com

Without further ado, here’s my interview with Stefani Butler.

Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s version of The Yaminade, really excited to have a very special guest with us today, coming to us all the way from Memphis, Tennessee, but that’s not where she’s based but we’ll learn all about that in a second. Please welcome Stefani Butler to The Yaminade.

Stefani: Hi everyone, hi Paul, thanks for having me today.

Paul: Thanks so much for making the time to chat with us today. I’m excited about the converstion that we’re going to have today in Australia and over there in the United States, for a number of reasons. One, you are the first Microsoft employee that we’ve had on the show and we’ll get to that at the end of the podcast, but more importantly you’re probably one of the first guests that we’ve had who has had a view of community management from internal communications / HR kind of roles that you’ve held in the past. What I’m really interested in our discussion today is to talk about some of the work you did in your previous roles before joining Microsoft as an Office 365 Customer Success Manager. To kick it off, let’s talk about that. What is the Stefani Butler story? Where have you come from and what kind of work have you been doing with organisations over the past five or ten years?

Stefani: Well thanks for having me. It’s a fun story. When I step outside of myself and start thinking about my career, I’m pretty blown away by the experiences I’ve been honoured to have, some pretty amazing organisations that led me to what I do now here at Microsoft. Stefani is a Hoosier, I come from Indiana, a little town north of Indianapolis called Kokomo, Indiana. I started my career when I graduated college with a Communications in PR degree and my heart was set on doing something in communications. I didn’t know what at the time, but that’s kind of normal for an 18 year old not to have clarity right? [laughs]

Paul: That’s normal for a 31 year old, but for an 18 year old as well.

Stefani: You’re right about that! It’s probably around 31 where I finally did get clarity [laughs]. I felt my way through a role right out of college with Rolls Royce North America. I took that role because it was a HR assistant role that supported employee communications. All I remember hearing about that role when it came my way was communications. I didn’t listen to the HR piece until day one when they started talking about human resources. Not even having a human resources degree, I wondered why they even hired me for the job! [laughs] I dove into that job and believe it or not, my communications education actually ended up being really relevant to the organisation and the challenges at the time. So I was allowed an opportunity to join their accelerated leadership program where I got a feel for all the specialist and generalist facets of HR including employee communication. For about three years I travelled the world on different assignments with Rolls Royce and got a specialised understanding of human resources. Everything from employee engagement to change management to your database generalist functions. After about four years working with Rolls Royce, I walked away with what I would say was a solid understanding from an entry-level standpoint at least, of the human resources facet.

Paul: What were the challenges? That was early 2004 so what were the challenges you were coming across at that time in that role when you were talking to people in the field?

Stefani: A couple of things, it’s a great question. At that time, programs like the Accelerated Leadership Development one I was on were somewhat new for organisations and they were traditionally for the manufacturing environment, they typically had tracks like that for your self-organisation and for your engineers but Rolls Royce was ready to scope that out for other areas like finance and communications, HR and marketing. They had a challenge of finding the talent pool to pull into that type of program. So they pulled me in as an early career resource and unleashed me on that talent pool, that early career talent population in the United States and the UK at the time. We were really looking to build programmes that would attract the top talent from some of your well-known Ivy League schools that we could bring into the non-technical functions of the organisation. That was one big challenge. The other was just finding aerospace engineers in that day and age.  Engineering was evolving, some of the skillsets that they were looking for across the organisation just weren’t there anymore so we had to get creative and market to the new and early new career talent to get them engaged and inspired about aeronautical engineering and aerospace.

Paul: So you were applying your communication skills to help build a community so you can help identify talent and drive it through the organisation.

Stefani: Exactly.

Paul: Brilliant, very good, keep going. Beyond Rolls Royce….

Stefani: Beyond Rolls Royce… a great company, a great career, but I wanted to explore consulting and at that time, Rolls Royce had moved me to the Washington DC Metro Area which is where their North America Headquarters is based in Virginia. I wanted to get my feet wet in consulting so I was introduced to a great opportunity with BearingPoint which was formerly KPMG at the time, to again hone in on a more specialised area of human resources. I got my feet wet in an area that I wasn’t earlier at Rolls Royce exposed to, which was doing investigations for the Department of Justice and other government functions for Employee Engagement issues, so that really taught me the importance of diagnosing and due diligence from a legal standpoint. And I’ll talk about why that was invaluable to what I do today when I talk about my current role. It really gave me my first exposure to consulting and I fell in love. I fell in love with having conversations with both internal and external customers about what their expectations were when it came to, in that instance, my investigation, the solution, the outcome they were expecting and then being able to deliver that and move onto a new experience every day. So moving from that willy-nilly, no rhythm… I fell in love with it and I stayed in consulting for quite a few years after moving on from BearingPoint. Then, at some point, one of my former bosses at BearingPoint worked at the National Automobile Dealers Association and she called me up and said “I need you, Stefani” and I said “why?”

Paul: Good problem to have!

Stefani: It is a good problem to have, I was quite honoured! She said “I need you. You’ve got the change management, the consulting background that I need for this association. I have a small HR department… you’re going to wear many hats, I need your communications, your project management and your HR expertise to help me build a strategic Human Resources team, not a back office administration support team”, which is typically how HR and in many ways old school corporate communications had been viewed from an administration standpoint.

Paul: It’s cost-centered, so how do we get the cost out of it, how do we get that administration as fast as possible, that’s how it normally works…

Stefani: Exactly, just churning it out. The request comes in, you don’t challenge it, you just say “sure” and you churn it out. That’s not the centre of excellence that she wanted at the office. That’s not why they hired her. They hired her to create a strategic office that could not only handle the administrative piece of the organisation but also to challenge the leaders and the board and employees to become more self-sufficient and knowledgeable about the things that mattered when it came to their employment like training and development benefits, those type of workplace experiences, so she hired me to come in and I gave her a year. I said “I’m going to do this for a year but I love consulting, I don’t want to be an employee anymore” [laughs] and four years later I was still there –

Paul: You must have been successful if you can lasted more than three months ‘cos normally if you take on one of those roles, its either because it works really well or you get walked out pretty quickly!

Stefani: It’s so true! Probably after three months I was questioning whether I’d last myself. But she’s an amazing leader and she challenged me with projects that really stimulated my skillset and where my passions were. By the time I left the National Automobile Dealers Association, I was able to deliver a new performance management structure, I had delivered a new recruitment management structure with a fast-paced technology at that time which took them from paper to cloud, we had integrated Sharepoint for the Association and that was a big integration for the team at the time. I had delivered a new business benefit administration structure, taking them again from paper to online and establish their internal communications practice which didn’t really exist beyond email here and there previously and had some solid deliveries with that group… That’s really where I started seeing the merge between my corporate communications experience and HR.

Paul: I think the experiences you’re talking about are very similar to stories I’ve heard from other people who have started out in communications or started out in HR. They’ve kind of seen the blurring of their roles as they’ve gone through jobs and organisations. It’s really interesting for me… I was a Marketing and Communications Manager for the organisation I’m with at the moment and to see the blending between communications and HR over the time that I’ve been working in these roles is interesting and it is interesting to see other people going through that exact same journey.

Stefani: It’s true Paul. Over 15 years now, I can’t imagine the two worlds living separately. That’s the conversation, not to skip ahead but just to plant the seed, that’s the conversation I have more and more with customers that these two functions and lines of business have to engage to create employee engagement success for an organisation. They do not function separately and if they do, I don’t see them being successful in the long-term.

Paul: If they’re separate, it’s newsletters and employment contracts – that’s not building community and engagement. Sorry to interrupt, keep going. After that you’re with a brand that even I’m familiar with over here in Australia…

Stefani: [laughs] When I left NADA, I had been in the DC area for about 10 years and I made the decision to come back to my roots and take a short window off and wanted to be intentional in my next role. I wanted to be smart about it and hone in on my passion for internal communication. At the time I felt like I had achieved about as much as I had wanted to achieve in HR, from a specialist and a general standpoint. I had an opportunity to join the Zimmer Holdings team, Zimmer being the largest medical device provider in the world. It’s based in little old Warsaw, Indiana and they had, what I would consider the perfect merger of HR and communications. They had the role of Global Communications Manager and said “you’re exactly the type of person we’re looking for”. I took that role and some of my big jobs were to create a mechanism for the HR organisation to inform and engage the global workforce about initiatives that were being under-utilised or not being utilised correctly or sometimes not at all. I joined that team and at the same time Enterprise Social was quickly picking up speed. At that time I’m on these external social channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and I quickly hopped on that integration team for a competitor product of Microsoft…

Paul: I’ll say it so you don’t have to break your contract. Salesforce Chatter, right? I think a lot of people who listen to this podcast who aren’t on Yammer but other social networks. It would be interesting to hear about the experience of building the community on Chatter as well.

Stefani: With Zimmer, the strategic vision for Enterprise Social relating to Salesforce Chatter obviously grew out of a very strong self-organisation. When it came to medical devices, they already had an infrastructure community in their Sales team. It was very strong outside of a portal it was a strong organisation of itself. We saw them utilising Chatter in a way that we thought “hey, let’s amplify this experience to our workforce, let’s engage employees and give them a voice that they haven’t had before” so that was the initial strategy, just to take a rogue experience and be very intentional and strategic about it for the entire global organisation. An integration team came together and we crossed our T’s and dotted our I’s and created a solid communications campaign that involved the C-Suite our chief marketing officer were real champions from the beginning. When you think about community, at least the way I think about it, it’s so important to get that C-Suit engaged from the start. Not only do they bless it and approve it, but also, they just give it momentum. They are the ones who engage with the average employee. Old school, we used to call it “walking the floor”, where the executive used to come down the aisles and pat you on the back or shake your hand, just to let you know they cared.

Paul: Tom Peters’ “managing by walking around”

Stefani: Exactly. And it’s not a lot, but it goes a long way. And we really got that executive support when it came to community early on so that if engagement was low or slow, they could post or like or reply to a post a thread here and there and really stimulate the type of behaviours we were hoping to see with Chatter. That was early on in the project and we had a great and successful launch. But I got an opportunity before I saw it grow to join an amazing company that I was familiar with in my own back yard, Delphi Automotive.

Paul: Before we get into Delphi, can I ask one more thing about Chatter. I don’t want to put the Microsoft employee on the spot. Take your Microsoft hat off for a minute as I’m looking for a really transparent answer. In our organisation, we have Yammer and Chatter. Chatter is really being driven by the sales organisation. As you said at Zimmer the sales organisation was using it as a tool and you were trying to apply it to the rest of the organisation. One of the things that has come up in conversation is that with Chatter it was easy to get the sales team on board because it was a very opportunity-focused collaboration and social interactions. But when you went to the rest of the organisation it was harder as they’re not necessarily opportunity-focused in their roles. When you went away from the sales process to the rest of the organisation, was there a difficulty in trying to get them engaged in that community or was it easy to overcome?

Stefani: I would say it was the former, getting the sales organisation engaged with the entire organisation. They had built their own community and they were comfortable interacting with each other. At the same time, the rest of the organisation had competing forces against it which hindered the ability for not only for them to interact with each other but also power users who were very familiar using it, like the self-organisation. Those competing forces were MyProfiles on SharePoint. The organisation had introduced Chatter and MyProfiles at the same time roughly to the broader organisation. You just had competing forces there that cause user confusion, but speaking specifically to the sales organisation, I did find it difficult to engage them outside of their core community because it was functioning so well for them already.

Paul: Excellent. Move on…

Stefani: No, it’s a great question and it’s not something that we don’t see with Yammer, which is something that I’ll discuss with Yammer when I go over my experience there. But overall the Chatter experience whet my whistle for Enterprise Social and the capabilities it brings to a business when done well and done right, when attached to a core, clear vision from the top down then actually attached to and mapped to specific business values across the lines of business. That’s what whet my whistle. Then an opportunity to join Delphi Automotive came across my desk. It’s a company that my family all worked at and I couldn’t turn it down. So I was the Global Internal Communications Lead for one of the divisions at Delphi Automotive. The approach there with internal communications was, I’d call it dated.

Paul: Traditional?

Stefani: Yes, traditional is a much better word, a bit traditional! It was more of a one way conversation. It was that traditional “here’s the flavour of the day, the news of the day, the message from the CEO of the day” and it really didn’t take into consideration the voice of the workforce. That’s what I’m passionate about, that’s the heart and the pulse of an organisation, your people. I remember working at Rolls Royce and their tagline has stuck with me to this day, Paul. Their tagline was “People, the power within” it just makes you pause, right?

Paul: Yeah [whispers] that’s really powerful.

Stefani: It just makes you pause, right? It’s a good one. Trademark props to Rolls Royce for that one. From a philosophical standpoint, as someone who’s passionate about internal communications, well I call it internal voice actually. I don’t know if that was previously coined but that’s how I coin my approach when it comes to internal coms because your people do have a voice. They don’t just want that one-way conversation, they want two-way. That was one of the key objectives when I took that role, to pave a two-way conversation. Simultaneously, that’s when we began to explore Yammer, Microsoft’s Enterprise Social platform. There were some rogue users, much like Chatter, the rogue users were just doing it under the radar, but the connected work team at Delphi reached out to me as one of the early communication adopters and said “hey we see what you’re doing on Apollo and what your division is doing when it comes to fresh communications, we want to pull you into this core connected worker team and test the applicability of impact of Yammer on a more intentional scale”. That was my early introduction to Yammer, Paul…

Paul: How long had the rogues been on Yammer before you had visibility to it?

Stefani: I would say a good year to a year and a half. A lot of the rogues were coming out of our Latin American regions. I have to give credit to some of our employees at our Mexico sites at Delphi as they were rogue users with a business intention of Yammer long before it was on the radar for IT.

Paul: What were they using it for?

Stefani: They were using it to collaborate on some of their engineering related projects, to discuss some of their workflow and basically collaborating out loud long before we were thinking about that more strategically across the enterprise.

Paul: So they were engineering folks. Did you have a mix of people from the manufacturing plants and people on the front line or was it still in the “ivory towers” of the acknowledged workers in the manufacturing organisation?

Stefani: I would say it was the knowledge workers based on the way we were set up. It had not at that time deployed to the front-line workers on the shop floors and the manufacturing developers. These are definitely your knowledge workers, folks who were probably collaborating inside email in much of the same way that they said “we want to see the value of doing the same thing, having the same conversations real-time inside Yammer” so they were your knowledge workers, definitely your engineers, some of your sales and marketing folks but the folks who were helping to innovate the products that Delphi were using, they were looking to Yammer to see if they could do it better.

Paul: Brilliant. I think the scenario you’re painting here is similar to that many people listening to this podcast would face. We’ve had a free version of Yammer within our organisation for six months, two years… however long it’s been. Now we’ve made the decision to go “right, let’s turn this into something real”. What I’m interested in is how you achieved that at Delphi? How did you transform the rogue network into the strategic communications asset that it became?

Stefani: I need to give credit to the connective worker team led by Shaun Murphy and his vice President Andrea Siudara. They came and said “we want to test this and see if it has real business value and impact”. They pulled us in and one of the first ways we were going to get strategic and intentional about it was to kick off an engagement contest. We were opening, at the time, our Silicon Valley office for Delphi. I said “let’s engage the workforce in this experience, let’s not make it a separate channel or experience reserved only for our media, PR or external audiences but involve our employees because they’re the ones who help make us who we are”. So we launched a soft employee engagement contest where we tapped the workforce and said “innovation lives here. We’re saying we’re this high-tech innovation company, tell us that innovation lives here. It was just a neat contest to see if people would adopt social, would they engage?  It wasn’t something we were going to roll out to the C-Suite, we just needed to validate a few hypothesis about general acceptance, engagement and adoption. The response to that just blew our minds. Network numbers went from maybe 500 and something to almost double by the next day in a week-long contest. And we gave away a prize or what have you. But from a business standpoint, what we took away from that experience was that if you communicate well enough, people will give them something very specific and intentional to do with that engagement and they will deliver for your business. Because the winning name helped name a collaboration room in that Silicon Valley Office. We realised that that had a significant impact and it was measurable and visible to the external audience. So when that was successful, we said “Ok, let’s test this on something that has true business value and can further our workflow on a day-to-day basis”. So another division decided to utilise Yammer after that engagement contest on a more overt way. The president of that division had a two-day executive leadership conference in Shanghai and he came to that communications team and wanted to create that experience all inside Yammer from communication to engagement, to even the breakout sessions, Paul. With the help of a marketing partner, that two-day event saw significant number increases. They had kiosks set up with Yammer launched so that people could stay close to the stations who were not on-site.

Paul: Hi everyone, sorry about the technical glitch here, what we’ll do is bring it back to Stefani so it’s different audio

Stefani: We had the executive kick off the two-day executive conference in Shanghai right inside Yammer. He set the tone by saying “Over the next two days, everything we communicate about and work on will happen inside this network.” There were a combination of public and private groups where the private groups served as the break-out sessions for people both onsite and remote where they collaborated out loud. Instead of having meetings in a bunch of conference rooms where everyone had to show up and close their laptops, people were invited to use their mobile devices at any point and stay connected to the breakout session. Between the marketing that went into this, the pre-communications and post-communications, it served as an extremely valuable business case for our executive team to show that from a cost standpoint, you don’t always have to have everyone in the right place at the same time to still accomplish your objectives for these type of meetings. So I’d consider that a huge measurable business outcome for using social collaboration to support a lot of the leadership efforts across the organisation.

Paul: How specifically were they using it? Was there a set agenda of questions that were posted that people could comment on or was it more ad-hoc and informal as people thought of ideas were they posting it to the network? How did the two days roll out?

Stefani: They did a combination of pre-intake and ad-hoc, being very agile with the whole experience as it was new.  From an intake standpoint, the corporate communications team assisted by doing some pre Q&A about what people expected to get out of the conference and how they expected the different breakout sessions to go, what type of things they would like to cover so that it could be a bit more strategic rather than it being a bit ad-hoc, willy-nilly, let’s test this… but then they also left the door open for people who were new to Yammer or this way of working and to provide feedback or ask questions real-time. All of his communications were scrubbed pre-event –

Paul: [groans] No, no!

Stefani: – but that doesn’t happen in this day and age, right? I think that’s ok because there were times where he was genuine and that’s what I encourage all executives, both at Delphi and even now customers with the CSM, that engagement from the top down and up again has to be genuine. Even though there were some pre-scripted/scrubbed posts for him to be very strategic against the agenda, there were also moments where he and his staff posted genuinely and authentically to further the objectives of these two days.

Paul: Brilliant. That’s the one thing I worry about… With a corporate communications person a couple of weeks ago, we talked about whether that was about control or empowering someone’s voice. Whenever I hear someone talking about scrubbing or watering down communications, I think that’s one of those controlling communicators that just wants to make sure they’re on message and you lose the value in some of the things that we’re trying to build. It’s good that the authentic executive came across as well.

Stefani: It did and I want to hone on that a bit if I can, because you’re a man after my own heart just saying that. That’s exactly my communication philosophy as a communications professional. I think traditionally we’ve been professionals who have written blogs and statements, scripted town halls. Anyone who’s in internal communications listening to this will know what I’m talking about, there is that mitigating risk by scripting conversations between executives and employees. But when we started migrating our workflow into a more agile social collaboration and enterprise experience at Delphi, I did share – I was a ghostwriter for the President and his Vice-President – very candidly with them, I said “as part of our editorial calendar, I’ll continue to write your blogs for the intranet site, but when it comes to Yammer, I will not write your blogs or your posts, simply for the reason you said, it’s got to be authentic and genuine and quite honestly, you’re going to get replies that I can’t respond to, you’re going to have to own the message and be comfortable with it”. It was a transition, definitely.

Paul: Thank you for sharing that very deep history of what you’ve done over the past few years, it’s definitely an interesting story and journey from starting at Rolls Royce in communications and HR and seeing that transition through the years.  What I’d like to talk about now is the transition from customer land, we’ll call it, into the machine that I Microsoft. You’ve only been there for five months?

Stefani: Yep, five months!

Paul: Moving into a role which a lot of people will be familiar with, the Customer Success Manager Role. First of all, give us a bit of an overview of your role when working with customers, then I’d like to hear about the interesting stories when you’re engaging customers, from outside looking in and how customers engage their communities and they key takeaways over the past four or five months.

Stefani: That’s a great question and I want to take my time and when I say that I just want to be thoughtful and pause… When I think about the role CSM plays in the customer success experience, I know we bring significant value into the change management strategy, but even more than that, we keep culture at the forefront of the conversation. I think that’s where we have our biggest impact and greatest value. Because as you know, traditionally when it comes to discussions about technology, before the cloud experience we were talking about software. That’s a technical, heavy discussion. Now we’re talking about the cloud and productivity solutions, you’ve integrated culture and people more broadly into the conversation both from an impact and adoption standpoint. So CSMs keep that culture at the forefront of the conversation and we nurture it so that when people start talking about architecture and domain names –

Paul: [yawns]

Stefani: Yeah, exactly, “zzz! Snore! Yawn!” [laughs]. When people start having these conversations, we pause and say “what’s the impact of this in your people? How are they going to respond?”

Paul: I had a meeting with a customer about a week ago. They wanted to launch their Yammer network and introduced each other, the Communications Engineer, Applications Engineer, the Systems Architect, around seven technology people. I said “look, your job is really easy, we can do it within the time of this meeting if we want, there’s a much bigger challenge at play here”

Stefani: You’re so right! I don’t think that for the folks listening to the podcast, that you’re downplaying the role IT has and continues to bring to this experience, but CSMs come and we say “hey there’s a couple more folks who need to be at this table” and they sit in HR and Communications and inside the business because those are the folks who help us impact your culture. Until you bring them to the table and this dance is on pause in many ways. From a change management standpoint, from an adoption and engagement standpoint, in a snippet, that is really the value a CSM brings into the experience.

Paul: Very good. Looking at your experience so far as a CSM, what are some of the things you’re seeing outside, I’m going to start again. I’ll edit this out! In fact no I’m not going to edit it, it’s going to be raw!! Sorry everyone! Thinking as a CSM, working with organisations in the US, what are the things that you are picking up that you might not have picked up when you were deep in the trenches of community management?

Stefani: I think one of the biggest things I’ve seen, and it does directly tie back to community management, is the absence of an emphasis on community management. For example, I make this analogy… any good project has a good project manager, right Paul? You need someone to steer the helm!

Paul: Sometimes there are bad ones too but generally the good ones are Project Manager!

Stefani: This is true! But you typically engage the Project Manager when you’re kicking off a substantial or highly-impactful mission-critical project across your organisation. I see community management in the same way when it comes to launching an Enterprise Social network like Yammer. You need that person or in this case persons to establish a community management practice in organisations for them to be successful. When I talk and train community managers, I tell them “Community managers know how to start great conversations”, and that’s the essence of an Enterprise Social network, business communication, sometimes they’re personal, but business-related conversations that further the work you’re trying to accomplish. When I’m in these conversations at a high level and I’m talking to customers, I’m always amazed at how little emphasis is placed on community management, as if somehow the network will magically grow and mature without some level of nurturing. I think that’s one of the biggest eye-openers in things I see and it’s something I’m passionate about so when I’m on an engagement, I’m bringing that to the surface and emphasising it as part of the full success strategy. Another thing is it’s a lack of education about what Enterprise Social is and its capabilities to enhance the way workforces and people work. That’s why we’re doing a lot with the Move The Market campaign at Microsoft which is amplifying though leadership about Enterprise Social. I think a lot of companies I’ve seen get this Enterprise Social thing from a trend standpoint, but don’t know the logistics of it and continue to be surprised about how relevant and applicable it is to what they’re doing, whether it’s a manufacturing company, a consulting practice or a partner, even. That’s another thing I’ve seen… How little education… because I’m so close to it, I feel like everyone understands it like I do, but that’s obviously not the case.

Paul: If only that were true! Going back a little bit to the community management, a lot of people I’ve talked to in the past and listening to this podcast have this vision of being a community manager or curate communities professionally, not just being .2 of their role in HR or Communications. Have you seen anyone transition from a traditional organisation role into a community management role? If so, what kind of things have you seen people do to make that transition? How have they created that vision or built the business case in their organisation to bring on that full-time community management capability?

Stefani: It’s a two-fold answer to your question. I have not witnessed someone transition per-se, I have witnessed customers transition their thinking about the day-job community manager role in the organisation to now creating a full-time equivalent resource. I have seen that and we’ll speak about that. I have seen someone attempt to transition into a full-time community management resource and that was a difficult transition because she did have the executive support and the C-suite support and the business strategy was to have her transition into a full-time resource, but quite honestly I did not get the impression that she was ready to be a full-time resource. Why is that important? When I think about it from a CSM standpoint – and I tell customers – when you’re going to add a layer onto what they’re already doing or transition them into a full-time resource, make sure that they’re passionate about this. One person said “this person is responsible for that line of business, they own that relationship, it’s natural that they would become the CM, the Community Manager” and that might seem logical in theory, but if the person is going to resists the social experience and be what we would consider at Microsoft a yellow or a red dot, I would encourage them to partner that person or identify someone else closely aligned from a similar skillset who is passionate about it, because you cannot have dispassionate community managers. You have to have people who are really good at it, or who will nurture it and are really good at it or can be developed in it. I think that’s about as simple as I can make it. I’ve seen customers transition their thinking around community management by adding a full-time resource. Not a whole lot, but we see them picking up momentum on this. I know three from the top of my head that from a confidentiality standpoint I won’t share without asking my fellow CSMs, but three customers I know who have added a full-time resource of Community Manager to their organisations. I commend them for that because it is a full-time job. I’d say that at the risk of people disagreeing with me. When you’re maturing your network, you can add that layer on to people who have capacity. It was definitely an add on to my position and I was a global lead for a division for internal communications and I did have a significant amount of accountability but it was something I was passionate about, so CMing didn’t feel like another layer, do you know what I mean?

Paul: If you were going to give someone a full-time community management role, would you bring someone in from outside of the organisation with fresh eyes or someone from inside who already knows how the company works?

Stefani: It’s a good question. I think it hinders on what the organisation has said their purpose is within Enterprise Social. We have customers who are approaching this experience still from a traditional standpoint and they still want to do the one way push and integrate that with their SharePoint intranet and really still control the message and engagement. If that’s the case, I would not bring somebody external into that experience. That’s neither good nor bad, I just want to make sure that if they develop, hire or create a CSM full-time role and do things they are traditionally do things the way they’ve done them, why not nurture and develop someone who is used to that. On the flipside, if they said “hey, we’re used to working this way but we want to explore a new way of working” then I’m a huge advocate from bringing in someone from outside, bringing in fresh thoughts and ideas, because you want to mix up the flow and the norm. You want to bring somebody who may not be used to doing things the way they have always been done and Quite honestly someone who will challenge the norm and I think an external hire is really well suited for that.

Paul: Brilliant. I didn’t have the answer for that, but that’s great. I think we’ve had a good chat now. Thank you so much for making the time.

Stefani: I’ve loved it!

Paul: What I’d love to hear are the top three tips for people who are creating a community on Yammer, what are the three things you would focus on to help drive growth and engagement and get those business outcomes from the Yammer community?

Stefani: Great question. Top three things… One, connect yourself with the top folks within your business. I’d start with IT, HR and Communcations. If you don’t have connections with the top tier folks within your organisation, then start asking questions “Who can I talk to? Who’s in charge for this line of busness?” but get connected early because they are the decision makers and will help drive Yammer adoption within your network.

Two, work with those people to get executive exposure and buy-in. Without that executive blessing, engagement, acceptance, it’s going to be difficult to grow the Yammer network and Enterprise Social collaboration as a whole because they are your advocates and champions from a top tier, so get with the business decision-makers, engage your executives…

And three, get your champions, whether they’re Community Managers, certified Community Managers or Yambassadors, folks who want to evangelise the value of the network but not be accountable for growing it per se, get those folks early, have conversations, have lunch and learns, ping them on Yammer, @ mention them on Twitter, make them feel like VIPs but get them on board early because they’ll take a load off you as a Community Manager. You’re going to be pulled in so many directions and you can’t do it all so engage folks who you can delegate to and hold responsible for its success.

Paul: Thank you so much for coming on The Yaminade today. Sharing your story across multiple organisations and particularly community management in the manufacturing automotive industry and also the transition from that world into Microsoft has been great. Thanks, I really appreciate your time. Catch you next time.

Stefani: Thanks, Paul, for having me, have a great day!

Paul: Thanks [laughs] I really need to find a better way to close that off because it gets really awkward… like “er thanks and I’ll see you later?!”

Stefani: I know, I’m like “how do I end this?”

Episode 3: Stan Garfield from Deloitte

Our first “international” guest on The Yaminade podcast is none other than Stan Garfield (@stangarfield) from Deloitte.  Many of you will know of Stan and be familiar with his leadership in knowledge management, communities of practice, and social business.

In this episode we talk about his career – from the early days working at medical schools; building KM capability at Digital Equipment Corp, Compaq and HP; to where he is today as the Community Evangelist in Deloitte Global Knowledge Services.  Then we dive deeper into how Deloitte are using Yammer today to share knowledge across its 210,000 strong workforce, and ultimately deliver value to their customers.  Finally Stan gives us a sneak peak at a number of sessions he is participating in at the KMWorld conference in Washington DC this November

If you want to keep abreast of the thought leadership Stan is showing in this field, I encourage you if you are on LinkedIn make sure you follow Stan to see what he is publishing.

Remember… the Yaminade is in it’s infancy – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form.  If you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

  1. Share The Yaminade with your friends, peers and co-workers!
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Transcript of Episode 3 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone, my name is Paul Woods and welcome to Episode 3 of The Yaminade, the podcast dedicated to helping organisations build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. Before I introduce you to our first international guest or if you’re in the United States, the first local guest, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has subscribed on iTunes or added the podcast feed to their favourite podcast app. In particular, there have been quite a few people on the Yammer customer network that have supported the launch of The Yaminade over the past couple of weeks. Let’s call out a few names from Microsoft including Angus, Kirsty, Cynthia, Louise, Mike, Stefani, David, Ian, Luke and Gonzalo and plenty of others like Rick from Columbia Forest Products and Melanie from Cargill, Rhoshonda from Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, thank you so much for providing feedback and sharing The Yaminade with others on the network.

For everyone listening, I would love you to share this podcast with people who you think would get value out of this podcast or content. The easiest way to do that is to make sure you’re on top of The Yaminade content. I would love it if you could subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you could follow @theyaminade on Twitter. You can like us The Yaminade on Facebook at facebook.com/theyaminade or if you like email you can sign up to The Yaminade newsletter on theyaminade.com. That’s the best way to keep up to speed with what is going on with the show, when new episodes are released. As I suggested in Episode 0, we’re going to try for a fortnightly podcast, so expect an episode every two weeks. So let’s go to today’s guest. The first international guest on the show. We are very privileged to have one of the world’s leading minds on knowledge management, communities of practice, community facilitation, social media, and social business. Let’s just say that when it comes to what The Yaminade is all about, Stan Garfield is the man. Earlier this week I had the pleasure to speak to him from Detroit in the United States.

Stan is responsible for managing the Yammer community globally at consulting firm Deloitte. In this episode you’ll hear him talk about how he works with over 210,000 employees worldwide to share knowledge and get better customer outcomes using Yammer.

I hope you enjoy my chat with Stan Garfield.

Stan: Thanks a lot for having me on, Paul. I got started originally in the university world. I spent the first eight years working in medical schools at St Louis in Missouri. I was a computer technical person. First a computer programmer then the manager of a computer centre so I felt my career was likely to stay in the technical realm but what was interesting was that before I got into computer science, which is what I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I first thought I was going to be a journalist so I went to journalism school for my first year of college.. While I was there I discovered I liked Computer Science better but I think the combination of technical and journalism background has been good for me in my career.

So I spent a long time after the university experience working in the computer industries, first with digital equipment corporations, starting over 30 years ago and then working through a series of mergers with Compaq Computer and Hewlett Packard and altogether 25 years in the computer industry usually working in the Services part of the computer business. I usually had teams of people working for me delivering consulting or sales support or some sort of technical expertise to our sales force or clients or both. Along the way I put my journalistic background to use and they would usually have information that they needed and I was able to provide it to them. Before there was the Internet, if you can remember back that far, we had to use other means for sharing, post them on computer networks and send things through email. Around 1995 when the Internet started taking off and we had a digital corporation, it was a great thing because we could share information more easily, making it available to people without needing to know who they were in advance, just posting it and they could come and retrieve it.

At that time I was really able to take what I had learnt informally and usually on the side of another job and begin doing it more formally. In 1996 I was asked to start the first knowledge management program for Digital. So I did and I have been doing something within the field of knowledge management ever since and it’s been quite a while, almost as long as the field has been in existence. Along the way we’ve seen a number of changes, but the fundamental needs really haven’t even changed at all. Even if you go back further, there was always a need to connect people to allow them to ask each other questions to solve problems together and to share with each other things that would be helpful. We did that at Digital before there was anything called the Internet or social media. We did that using something called Notes Conferences. If you go back in time and come forward, in some ways, technology has changed a lot and in some ways we’re really doing a lot of the same thing, basically out of the core, the same fundamentals; getting people connected people so they can help each other out, being able to let people who don’t already know each other share an interest, connect and learn from each other and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Paul: Brilliant. A lot of people who listen to the podcast will be “digital natives” or Gen-Y who have been given the task of managing their communities on a social network. I’d love to hear your thoughts around the real differences in trying to build a community pre-internet before you had these tools that were like a lubricant for social connections before you had those tools versus today when you have technology which enables those connections to happen much more seamlessly.

Stan: It’s a great question and in some ways things haven’t changed at all. The same challenges exist which are largely behaviour challenges as opposed to technology challenges. Getting people to agree in a certain way that may be difficult to what they’re used to or comfortable with, hasn’t changed at all. What has changed now is that people are more used to the idea that they are expected to share with people. Before that wasn’t as widespread. Today, with personal networks that people use outside of the work environment like Facebook and Twitter, they are at least familiar with the idea of posting something, liking something and sharing it. But what hasn’t changed is the notion that  you have to make people see the benefit in being part of a community. If you look back, what caused people to use the communities that existed at Digital before the Internet was that they allowed them not just to use them for work-related but also non-work related opportunities. I think that was very important. They were allowed to have communities for the ski club or music or food lovers group. I think that helped because they could get comfortable using it in a way which matched their personal interests. Then when it came to asking in a business context, they were already used to it so it wasn’t a big ask for them, it wasn’t a big change from getting them to move from the next ski event to the technical solution to this problem.

If you look at where we are today, I think we still have some challenges with technology that make it easier to communicate through our phones, email, online or whatever way you prefer. We still have the fundamental challenge of getting someone to agree to ask something in public that could be exposing their ignorance. That same challenge is there. The people part of knowledge sharing is as much a challenge as any other part.

Paul: I would agree with that 100%, that fundamental fear of being exposed, it’s similar to the fear of people seeing their face on camera. It’s one of those things that are entrenched in human behaviour… You need to take people on the journey to make sure they can get across that dip to really get value out of connections that they can make on the networks or communities that you’re building, absolutely. Very good.

So today you’re at Deloitte, who are definitely not a small company. They’re a large multi-national consulting business services advisory organisation. How many people do you have at Deloitte at the moment?

Stan: Altogether, we have over 200,000 who are part of Deloitte. Deloitte is set up of a group of member firms in each country that has a Deloitte presence has its own separate firm with its own CEO and its own government. The global Deloitte is a network of these member firms which tries to share across the member firms and therefore the collaboration of networks become an important tool for them but you have an obstacle to overcome because in their local firms they can do whatever they want, they can use their own tool, they don’t necessarily have to connect outside that firm. So getting people to connect globally is an interesting one, because you want to show them that in addition to whatever local connections they may have there’s potential benefit in reaching outside of the local network to learn what people outside of their country may be doing a series of smaller ones to deal with. So we have that big global organisation but also a series of smaller ones to deal with.

Paul: It’s really important in your line of work in business consulting. The product you’re delivering is the knowledge and experience of the people on the ground working with the customers. If there’s any organisation where sharing information, knowledge and experiences across a global network would make perfect sense, this is the one, isn’t it?

Stan: It is and that’s why the firms that are currently known as the Big Four, of which Deloitte is one, were pioneers of knowledge management back in the mid-90s for the reasons that you mentioned, that knowledge is what we’re offering and essentially our capital is our people and their knowledge. We recognised early on that we needed to put in place processes and systems to enable our people to share with each other, to reuse what they had done in one part of the organisation to avoid making the same mistakes more than once, to avoid redundant effort and take advantage of the size of the organisation. You mentioned 200,000 people is a lot of people and there’s potential great benefit that we’ve done everything that can be done somewhere in the world, so make that fact known to each other. If we can make each other aware of what we’ve done, we can avoid reinventing the wheel!

Paul: That’s it. You talk about the wisdom of crowds, you’ve got your own crowd so you have enough people to get some information and give good advice to your customers around the world. What I’d be really interesting in is from the sound of it, being one of the Big Four, you’ve had that knowledge management culture or maturity before things like Enterprise Social came along. Did that translate really quickly into the Enterprise Social network when you rolled out things like Yammer or was there a struggle to translate lenge things that you did knowledge management world pre-social network world into a social network world?

Stan: It’s both. I think we both had some immediate success with and some ongoing challenges that we’re still dealing with. A couple of examples… one is Yammer was initially used by our Australian member firm and they were a pioneer for us. They licenced it for us before we licenced it globally. They had a nice head start and used it quite effectively and the CEO of the Australian member firm was a real champion of it. He personally uses Yammer and gets other people to use it and they follow his example. There’s a lot of energy there that would be viewed quite positively in Australia. But if you go to other member firms that haven’t pioneered it like Australia, it’s a little different. They feel like they’ve got their own established ways of doing things, they’re used to using their own personal networks, using email and other mechanisms so Yammer to them can strike them as something new and extra that they have to do. In order to overcome that, you have to be able to show them that for some things it’s going to work better than what they’re used to. You can’t just tell them “hey we have this new tool, start using it!” people are reluctant to do that, you have to show them “if you want a resource to up staff engagement, this is going to be a better way for you to get that quickly than if you tried something else”. Our emphasis is very clearly on stating our user cases are, where it’s beneficial to use it versus alternatives and then to share stories where it has been used effectively so others can benefit from that.

Paul: What tactics do you use to share those tactics and communicate those user cases? Are you running workshops with change champions that have taken that message out to the audience? Are you just sending a blanket email to everyone and hoping for the best? How do you get those reluctant adopters across the line by sharing these stories?

Stan: You have to try multiple approaches. One way is through training and awareness and mentoring and individual one-on-one handholding. Other ways are publishing information that people can consume. Hopefully it’s not just viewed as some sort of broadcast email but it’s more tuned to what people might pay attention to. Another way in which we’ve tried to do it is to have a simple and easy to use device to remember what the recommended user cases are. I came up with an acronym for that. So instead of saying “hey everyone, start using Yammer to collaborate” which is easy to ignore, what I said was “there are seven uses for Yammer and those can be remembered in the acronym: SAFARIS” so we put a picture of a giraffe on a slide and the seven letters of SAFARI, share, ask, find, answer, recognise, inform and suggest. I’m able to rattle those off to you not because I’m looking at them but the acronym makes it easy to remember. If people can remember the giraffe, the word SAFARIS and run through those letters, they’ll know that these are the seven things that Yammer does best. Even if you can only remember the first three: share, ask and find, then that’s a pretty good start. Spreading that message around, having that image appear on screens in offices, conducting regular training, having people able to ask questions about how they can more effectively use Yammer and sharing the stories. Then Yammer allows itself to be a great place to gather stories. Let’s say you post a question to Yammer and I answer you and you respond saying “thanks Stan that was very helpful, that allowed me to solve a problem I was struggling with” I can capture that thread as a success story and nobody needs to do any extra work, you don’t need to write it up or disseminate it.  I just share that into a collective group called Yammer Wins so when someone says “prove it to me that this is worthwhile” I can say “don’t take it from me, here, read this thread from an actual user and see how this helped them”.

Paul: The proof is absolutely in the pudding! Very good. It’s always great to hear success stories of Yammer Community Managers or people who are building Yammer communities on social platforms but the most interesting thing for people just getting started out is thinking about the challenges that you came across, the roadblocks or things that slowed you down and got in the way of you achieving what you were trying to achieve? With the Deloitte case, there’s a really clear alignment to your business strategy: knowledge is your core product and we need to make sure that we share that with everyone around the organisation. There’s a pretty clear alignment with the core of the company. I’d be really keen to hear, that even though with that alignment, what are the challenges that you’ve seen over the years as you’ve developed it across the world?

Stan: The first challenge was just getting the idea that we were going to have a global network. We still have some member firms that keep their own local network in addition to the global network. That was challenge number one. It would really work best if we had a single network, because then we would avoid fragmentation and silos that can exist when everyone has their own network… And we formed the global network at that time, there was a separate network in place for every one of our member firms, over a hundred and we managed to consolidate them all into a global network. We still have some, so about six local networks left. That’s a challenge because someone might be asking a question in the local network that could have been readily answered by the global network but it didn’t get there, so therefore we missed that opportunity… so that’s one challenge.

Paul: What’s the rationale for those subsidiaries or those partner organisations to maintain their local presence? What are the arguments they’re suggesting as to why they need to maintain a local presence?

Stan: I think because we were first and they didn’t want to disrupt it, that could be part of it. Then they want to keep their local discussions to themselves, which could be done through groups in the global group, but the perception is they want to keep their discussions to themselves… It could be a local language question, there could be a number of reasons. But over time we are going to continue working on that. For example, the Canadian firm which is one of our larger firms had their own local network, but once we launched our global network, they agreed to consolidate into the global network by creating the Team Canada Group within the global network, so whenever they want to have Canadian specific discussions, they can do so within that group as part of the global network, which would be our recommendation.

Paul: Any other challenges beyond a global or consolidated network…?

Stan: I would say three more.

One is groups. Within the network there’s a tendency for people to want to create their own group. That’s a variation of the network challenges… “I’ll create my own group where we can talk about this topic” and they don’t think about it more broadly. So one example is “I’m going to talk about SAP” in my country which is Luxembourg. What they don’t get that there’s nothing particularly unique about SAP in Luxembourg compared to SAP in some other country. If we have one single SAP group for Deloitte, there’s a lot more power in that than having a hundred groups for each country. So it’s about getting people to think across organisational boundaries. It’s a challenge, but when we overcome it, the results can be quite powerful for our largest groups which have a single group and they’ll have five, six, ten thousand members in those groups. The power in that is that you can make a promise to people which is if you go and post your question in the group, you’ll get a bunch of really useful answers immediately. If we have smaller groups, multiples that overlap, then it can be frustrating to users because they don’t know which group to go to and none of those groups may thrive, so that’s the second challenge.

The third challenge is how the networks are configured. The way that Yammer works it that the defaults are sometimes not as desirable as we’d like so initially a user may find that they get information flowing to their feed that they don’t care for and they then dismiss Yammer and say “oh, it’s a lot of noise, I’m not going to go back to it”. When in fact if they had just configured their feed, they would not have that objection. So getting things set up initially is important and we have to work with people to educate them about that.

Then the final challenge is about leadership. We had some success early on when launching Yammer that leaders conducted Yam Jams which are essentially half an hour to an hour long online jams where people would interact with the leaders which was nice, but what we need is leaders to continue to use Yammer beyond those one-time events… to routinely use it and set the example for other people who are looking for their lead who think “oh I see how those people are using Yammer, now it’s ok for me to use it”.

Paul: Yam Jams are a good way to get leaders on board for that flash in the pan engagement as you suggested. What have you done to encourage that next step with your team, the executive sponsors and each of those partner organisations? Have there been any specific tactics or is there anything that’s worked really well in getting the CEO of the Luxembourg subsidiary to be a regular contributor or regularly engaged on the network?

Stan: We have some digital mentoring that we do where we try and engage with those leaders, they may be uncomfortable with this technology or they may perceive that they don’t have time, but we try and show them how to do it with even a limited amount of time. For instance we can mail them messages from Yammer which they can respond to and that will end up being posted in Yammer. They don’t have to use it in ways they’re uncomfortable with, we can make it convenient for them to interact in ways that they’re used to. Another way is to try to solicit some who are a bit more willing to be out there as a way of getting feedback for employees. One of our good examples of that is our CIO is able to use it to say “what kind of technical changes would you like me to make in the next year” and get a large number of people responding to that because they appreciate that the CIO is asking for their input. Then when he comes back and says “we’ve heard to you, this is what we’re doing” it makes a powerful closed loop.

Paul: Absolutely. If you looked across all your partner organisations that are active on the global network, do you think there’s an opportunity to improve that level of executive engagement on the network or are their pockets where it’s not so good? Just give us an idea of the level of executive engagement you have across the community at the moment?

Stan: It’s something that we can definitely improve on. We have some that are using it quite well but we probably have a long way to go before we could say that we have the level of leadership engagement that we would like. Getting that improved both is a challenge, but the path is big. Each time you can get someone to see that you want them to do more than just be present for an occasional event that you’d like them to respond to a person who has just posted and give them some feedback, or like a post they made. The power of that can be immense. If I post something out there and see the leader of my organisation has liked that or responded back to me for taking the time to share, I’m much more likely to keep sharing because I have positive feedback from someone important. Plus that story will spread, people will tell each other “hey did you see what the leader did?” and we if we can get that to happen, it’s a big pay-off but we still have a long way to go. Many people would agree it’s a good idea, but getting them to change their routines is more difficult.

Paul: Absolutely. We’ve been talking a lot about inside your organisation and how you share throughout the network between subsidiaries or partner organisations throughout the Deloitte network. Being a knowledge organisation that needs to share knowledge with customers, are you applying any of this in your interactions within your networks? Are you using Social to bring your customer base to bring higher levels of customer service and then ultimately for you guys to increase your revenue longer term using technologies like Yammer?

Stan: We make extensive use of all the different social media tools. Not Yammer, Yammer we fitted to use within Deloitte, but if you a look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any major social technology, Deloitte embraces that and has people working on that and has people working on pursuing those channels. Whether it’s marketing, recruiting new talent, we have been using all those channels as a way of interacting with people and making sure that we’re viewed in the current trends and not behind. So we have a YouTube channel and we have things on Vine and SlideShare, where you will go, you tend to see a Deloitte presence but it allows people to interact with us in whatever way they prefer. If they want to interact with us on Twitter or LinkedIn they can and we’ve made a point of having a lot of our thought leaders be active on these channels. For example on LinkedIn where people are posting on the long-form blog posts and interacting with people as large numbers of our target audiences engaging with us that way. Then we go things like webinars – we have a series called Debriefs which are online webinars that we get a large number of people participating in so I think we’ve tried to embrace as many forms of interaction as possible and over time there’ll probably be some narrowing down of those, some channels thrive and some don’t, but right now we’re trying to use all of those to interact with clients, analysts, potential employees and so forth.

Paul: Ok, brilliant. I guess we’re getting to the end of the chat so what I’d really love to understand is, if you had your time again, if you were sitting in Detroit at Deloitte there and you had to start that community from scratch and the opportunity to start over again and not make mistakes and repeat more of your successes that generally got really good results in building the community, building engagement and getting people involved in sharing knowledge within the organisation. What would be the things that you would do again? What would be the advice that you would give to someone just starting out, building their own community or network?

Stan: For one, I would try and get this configuration problem solved better than we did. It’s partly not under our control because we have to work with the vendor and they have their own constraints. But if we could have put more influence on the vendor so that the configuration for a large organisation like ours could be different than what it had be for small ones… It came out of a small organisation and what they thought were the right settings and what worked for them really wasn’t the right settings for an organisation as large as ours. For example “what should the defaults be for your feeds, email notifications and daily digests?” they thought it wasn’t a bit deal but it turned out to be a big deal for adoption. Initial experience with the social network was that it was unpleasant and it’s hard to overcome. So get it right, get those configurations so the first experience people have is positive. Number two would be the question of many networks. It would be really nice if we started from scratch with one network and if everyone was in one place and they’re not frustrated from their local network when in fact they could have got help from their global network.

The third one is to do with groups. We had hoped that we could control the creation of groups so we can limit the amount of redundant groups that might be created. That’s not feasible, so consequently it’s possible for anyone to create a group and what that means is that there could be many, many groups on one topic and now we have to go back after they’re created and try to consolidate them to improve user experience. It would be better than before creating group, people check to see if there is one already and then become a co-leader of that group instead of creating a second one. Those are the three things I would try to go back and do if I could.

Paul: Ok, brilliant. That last comment you made is an interesting one. It’s almost a fine-balancing act. You almost want to give people the ability to create groups and value in the network, those knowledge sharing spaces… You don’t want to turn that off necessarily but you want to ensure you have the ability to consolidate those really good spaces together to make them more powerful and amplify the success of each of those individual groups.

Stan: That’s been a natural point of disagreement within the field of social networks. There are definitely people who think “let anything than can happen, happen… the survival of the fittest and let a thousand flowers bloom and all that…” Now the other extreme, when you’ve been around for as long as I have, you’ve seen it all and you know how things play out over time. Trying to see it from the point of view of the user. For instance when I started running the knowledge management programme at Hewlett Packard, they had a situation similar to groups which were essentially hundreds of distribution lists and what I realised was that no one would ever read through that list, they would just give up. None of those lists were successful. What we did was pool them down to a much smaller list then everything was able to take off. I think the same thing applies here. If you limit it, but not from the standpoint of telling people what not to do but instead encouraging them to be part of one that already exists… it’s all how you portray it… but if I say to you “rather than creating a second SAP group, I’d like you to become co-leader of the existing one” that’s a positive way of there still being just one, but it builds up it’s critical mass to a point where it serves all its users well and gives a better user experience because when they go to ask a question about SAP, there’s just one group for them and it’s not a confusing thing at all.

Paul: Brilliant, very good. Thank you very much Stan. I appreciate your thoughts that you’ve shared over the past half hour with us and the community around Yammer. I really appreciate it. One final question before we wrap up… As I mentioned at the start, you’re speaking at KM World in Washington DC in November. I’d like to hear a quick overview of the sessions you’re delivering and if anyone listening to the podcast is thinking of attending, it’d be a great opportunity to plug your sessions and give them an idea about what you’re talking about…

Stan: Sure, I’d be glad to and thanks for the opportunity. I’ll be doing three sessions on the day before the conference officially starts, there’s a workshop day of morning and afternoon workshops. In the morning I’ll be holding a workshop called Knowledge Management 101. It’s an induction to people who are getting started in the field so they can look at the steps they need to take to get a knowledge management initiative started. Then on the third day of the conference, the second day of the actual conference, there’ll be two sessions I’ll be involved in. One is a panel discussion along with some colleagues from other firms including Microsoft and Drive, we’ll be talking about how to increase adoption, so that’s an area that’s of interest to people in networks Then there’s a session I’ll be giving on social media, sort-of a tutorial on the different tools that exist and how you can use them in the context of knowledge sharing, so I’d welcome anyone who’s coming to attend those three sessions.

Paul: Brilliant. Anyone who’s interested in following Stan, he’s a prolific publisher. If you search for Stan Garfield on your favourite search engine you’ll find plenty of content that Stan has produced over the years. One of my favourite resources that I’ve seen recently is Stan’s SlideShare page where he lists a lot of presentations that he’s delivered with Deloitte and during his career. If you want more information or to learn more about his experiences, your favourite search engine is the best place to go and Stan has a great website which links off to those resources as well. Thank you very much Stan for sharing your stories on The Yaminade and thank you very much!

Stan: You’re welcome, thank you very much for having me.

Paul: Cheers