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, sovaldi 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.

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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

Rhiannan talking about her community management journey on Yammer

Episode 2: Rhiannan Howell from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads

This week I had the pleasure to have an informal #responsivecoffee with Rhiannan Howell (@rhi_jai) at Spring, treatment a great cafe in Brisbane City.  After finding one of the noisiest tables in Brisbane and sipping away on our long blacks we got the ZoomH4n and microphones out of the bag and pressed record…

(as a side note, information pills by turning the recording level down on the device you can’t hear how noisy the cafe and the road we were sitting beside was – so please forgive us half way through when we start talking about a B-Double Truck rumbling past!  Honestly we couldn’t hear each other across the table, order although you can’t really notice it on the podcast!  Having a good quality podcast voice recorder saved the day!)

Rhi is from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.  As one of many agencies that are part of the Queensland Government, TMR are going through a cultural renewal program which involves all 6500 employees.  One of the ideas that Rhi turned into action was driving the adoption, launch and engagement of a Yammer network across the organisation.

In this episode of The Yaminade, Rhi talks about the broader transition the organisation is going through, how she turned her idea to adopt Yammer into action, and some of the successes (and challenges) she and her Yammer Champions have seen over the past 6-12 months.

Links we discussed during The Yaminade this week…

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!

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Transcript from Episode 2 of The Yaminade

Paul: Welcome to The Yaminade, Rhiannan Howell from The Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland, Australia.

Rhiannan: Hi Paul

Paul: How you doing? [laughs]

Rhiannan: Really good, thanks!

Paul: Awkward start! We’re basically running our own responsive coffee between myself and Rhiannan. For those of you who don’t know what responsive coffee is, I’ll put a link into the show notes about it. I guess it’s a driving force within the Yammer community. If you want to meet other people who are facing similar challenges to you or looking to explore how to use Yammer or Enterprise social within their organisations, then get onto your local responsive coffee. So enough about that, Rhiannan let’s learn a little bit more about The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and what your organisation is trying to achieve.

Rhiannan: Sure. Transport and Main Roads is based in Queensland, Brisbane, that’s our central Head Office. We’ve got about 6500 staff in about 80 work locations across the state: some really big offices, some really small offices and we manage about 60 customer service centres where people can go and renew their rego and licencing for cars.

Paul: Basically like the Department of Motor Vehicles in the US but you’ve also got responsibility for main roads and highways in the state as well. You’ve kicked off this Yammer journey over the past twelve months. It’s aligned to us a really strong strategic initiative within the government. Talk to us a little bit more about that program and some of your goals and how they align with using Yammer at the moment.

Rhiannan: The Queensland Government is moving towards being the most responsive public service in the nation. So to do that the government has acknowledged that there needs to be a significant shift from the old bureaucratic commander control into a more network-type arrangement. TMR is really embracing that by aligning Yammer as a way of putting ideas into action, so really being a big strategic driver of our innovation agenda, which is probably one of the leading agendas in Queensland Public Service.

Paul: Before we get into Yammer, what are the things that are happening around the social network and what kind of activities are the organisation putting in place? From a leadership point of view, what’s the messaging coming from the workforce and then let’s dive into the Yammer thing itself.

Rhiannan: I undertook a bit of a social experiment. I work in a small area called Strategy Renewal, we’re leading innovation and workforce renewal, so really looking at what our leaders need to equip them to lead our people into the future. For us, it was about shaking up a very aged old, long-tenured service and disrupting what they’re trying to do. It’s about removing some controls and empowering people to try new things. For us, Yammer has been a key part of that process.

Paul: So being a public service government agency, a lot of your workforce had been there for a very long time and are used to doing things in a certain way. I think you mentioned you have people in the workforce that have worked there for 40 years and on top of that, so they’ve spent their entire career within the one organisation, they’ve seen everything. As for the Yammer network, give us some stats first, because we all love stats, how many people do you have on the network?

Rhiannan: We’ve got 3429 people when I last checked about 20 minutes ago. That’s about 54% of our workforce. I think we’ll get to 4000 and I don’t think we’ll get many more than that.

Paul: Why’s that?

Rhiannan: Just because of the type of work that some people do. Some of them don’t use computers. Some of them don’t have smart devices, particularly some of our workers in the older generation. We don’t push it, it’s not a compliance activity for us, it’s about giving people access to the tools and allowing them to opt-in to the process.

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: Your launch event for your community on Yammer was this leadership roadshow where you have executives encouraging people to test it out, which is great.. Once you’ve got people in the network, what activities do you use to drive engagement, to make sure it’s sticking and going to be integrated into business processes?

Rhiannan: It wasn’t about the number of people joining the network so we created a series of micro-challenges which align to our Public Service Values. We’re trying to embed through Grow Not Show strategy.

Paul: A clear alignment to core values and aspired cultural values in the organisation.

Rhiannan: That gave people something to do when they got there. We also encouraged people to create their own groups and we encourage them to make them cross-functional, so it wasn’t about “my branch is doing this or my location is doing that”, it was about connecting people from across the state.

Paul: I should just jump on something there and it’s a question we get all the time, what’s the strategy across groups, shall we have a hierarchy of groups or taxonomy of what groups are put into a network or do we let anyone create a group? It sounds like you said let anyone create a group if you need a group, just try to include as many people as you can

Rhiannan: And to relate groups to each other so they can be linked and people can then follow a theme and jump on board for other groups. We’ve gone out with the strategy of making everything public as much as you can. That would be my advice to anyone. The whole intent of Yammer for us is about transparency and connecting people who can’t traditionally be connected, so I would encourage as many groups to be public as I can.

Paul: Metrics are always good, how many networks do you think you’ve got in your group?

Rhiannan: 215

Paul: Do you have any plans around governance? People see that and think “there’s 215 groups, how are you going to manage that?” or are you just going to let it be organic?

Rhiannan: Definitely let it be organic. My community management role is 5-10% of my day job. The idea of us using Yammer to really disrupt the culture in TMR is about everything in TMR you need approval for or there’s a form you need to fill out and someone needs to sign something off, so Yammer is about totally disrupting that.

Paul: A breathe of fresh air! [laughs]

Rhiannan: Totally!

Paul: Apart from yourself, 5-10% of your role, so let’s be generous and say that’s 8-10 hours a week, maybe on your lunch break, is there anyone else inside your organisation who is formally tasked with managing this? Or have you built an informal network of people to do the heavy lifting for you?

Rhiannan: I’ve built an informal network and that’s from people who have an appetite and a real desire to embed Yammer as a business tool within their teams.

Paul: How did you find those people? Did they just come out of the woodwork?

Rhiannan: There’s no volunteer process, so it was about me observing the staff and having a look at the people who were getting on board and tagging people in posts, and showing a keen desire

Paul: So it’s data-driven response to building your team of Change Champions, people who are active in the network and who are starting to show those behaviours and have jumped on board with them

Rhiannan: This spread all over state. The Customer Service Centre Manager in Mount Isa was my first Yammer Champion.

Paul: To put that into context, Mount Isa is as far away as you can go where there’s civilisation in Brisbane!

Rhiannan: It’s a mining town of about 10,000 people and it’s completely different to Brissie.

Paul: It’s a different world! Out of those Change Champions who are just doing it because they want to, are there any behaviours of attributes that people could look for? So if they don’t have a network but are trying to set one up….

Rhiannan: We’re looking for Yammer to embed our values within the organisation, so I was looking for people who were demonstrating putting customers first, being courageous, unleash your potential, empowering people and really focusing on those attributes that I was looking for, but also people who were coming to me and asking me questions “how do I do this? How do I set up this group? I have this problem in my team, how can Yammer help me?” “hey I’ve got this informal network, you don’t get anything extra for it except my gratitude”

Paul: And that’s worth a lot

Rhiannan: and I haven’t had one say no so I’ve got about ten people in my network.

Paul: Very good. So we’ve talked about the good things. Let’s talk about the harder things, the more challenging things, the pull-your-hair-out type things. For me, it’s middle managers. It’s this layer of an organisation where it’s really difficult to get traction. They have had their own control over the communication process for so long and now they’re losing this. Do you have any middle managers who are on board with this or is this a gap you see?

Rhiannan: It’s definitely the gap I see in my network. On a handful of occasions I’ve had people tell me that they are going to leave the network because their Manager isn’t happy or he’s trying to censor what they’re trying to say on Yammer. We got a really good buy-in from the top and grassroots, but it’s the people in the middle we’re struggling in it.

Paul: Have you seen any examples of success where one of those Middle Managers has got on board and wants to share the success with the team?

Rhiannan: We’ve got a strategic policy area which will look after 30 year long-term vision strategies for The Transport Network. Their management group has really got on board about it being an opportunity for them to have a voice in the organisation. They’re hosting the Yam Jam next Friday. It’ll be the first non-strategy and renewal type Yam Jam that’s happening in the business and it’s around the Queensland Plan.

Paul: The context of the Queensland Plan is basically a vision for the next twenty to thirty years for the state of Queensland and how government agencies like the Department for Transport and Main Roads respond do this.

Rhiannan: Absolutely.

Paul: I’ve been watching all the adverts so I’m an informed constituent. Another thing is that none of your offices have Wi-Fi?

Rhiannan: I think one office has Wi-Fi!

Paul: So when I say a lot, all of them! That’s an interesting thing to think about. If you’re using Yammer and encouraging people to use it on their devices, but if you want that kind of engagement within the office, you can’t have those opportunities where you can engage and go down to the shop or another office, it’s hard to get that connection between the individual and the end point.

Rhiannan: I have no doubt that if we had Wi-Fi we’d see engagement increasing. I think it’s on the long-term roadmap. Right now we’ve got a lot of facilities that we’re moving out of, so it makes sense for them to consolidate the accommodation strategy before we go down that path.

Paul: Exactly. I love hearing the success stories of people using Yammer, and how Yammer has changed their organisation. Do you have a Yam Win that you’ve seen in the last six to twelve months that absolutely summarises why TMR is doing that, that lighthouse story?

Rhiannan: To pick one example is hard, there’s a few I can think of –

Paul: You can choose more than one

Rhiannan: – that have really reinforced it for me. As I said, Yammer has been part of our innovation agenda. We work on this theory that we need to stop the air sandwich. So previously in TMR we’ve had strategy developed with no execution in mind and vice versa, so you have a really good strategy but terrible execution, or really good execution with terrible strategy. So we’re trying to reduce the gap and use Yammer as a way of sourcing input from the department on really key pieces of work, like our innovation strategy which was our first Yam Jam we had 180 bits of input within an hour which really –

Paul: That’s sensational! How long would that take to get that kind of engagement from your workforce in the past?

Rhiannan: We did in April, so I think we’d still be going

Paul: You’d only be halfway there [laughs]

Rhiannan: If that! Have those ideas turned into action? It’s really easy to collect information but have we seen that translated into real business outcomes?

Rhiannan: Absolutely. On that example, the innovation strategy sourced our ideas, went back to the community that provided the input and rescoped some part of that strategy so that was a key bit for us and now the team in my area that focuses on innovation is looking at the strategy, so they’re building innovation capability frameworks, they’re looking at R&D spend and how we can better utilise that, so they have a pipeline that they’re working their way through.

Paul: Brilliant. What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened that you thought would never happen??

Rhiannan: A couple of weeks ago our corporate area ran a Leadership and Diversity event in the cube, which is a fantastic facility.

Paul: I’ll put a link down in the show notes. It’s down at the Queensland Technology, the perfect place to put ideas out there and start thinking about stuff.

Rhiannan: We had a panel event where we invited some key speakers to talk about not just women in leadership but diversity in general. Following on from that, it was the first time we streamed something to our officers so it wasn’t a Brisbane-central issue. We followed up with a post on Yammer by TMR and we’ve had 80 posts about recognising women in leadership, really good examples of leadership and that’s just conversations that haven’t happened before.

Paul: It’s purely because you had an event which is realistically localised by geography. If you’re within 100km of Brisbane, you could get to it and you’ve never had that opportunity to share it with people before. Brilliant. I love stories like that which allow people to be discovered and working out loud on a network like Yammer. The content and connections are there and you’re not hiding it from anyone. If people want to jump on it they can. A nice way to wrap this up is that a lot of people are in your shoes, but they’re right at the start of the journey. What things would you have done to make things easier? What would you have done differently, potentially, that would bring you greater success? What do you wish you knew six to twelve months ago?

Rhiannan: I guess what I talked about earlier was that Yammer for us was an ideas we put into action within 5 days. So we went from it being an idea in the back of my brain to being a network in five days. If I had my time again, I’d have an extra five days to think about how we’re engaging people and what we do when we get them there. With the micro-challenges, we incorporated them almost at the eleventh hour, so there’s some really due consideration around that. We’ve got heaps of great ideas but it’s about connecting into the pipeline so we can demonstrate that this isn’t somewhere you put your ideas into it and it goes into a black hole, it’s about driving efforts and we’re developing a process called Idea Jam, but we can talk about that another night.

Paul: Idea Jam? Sounds like a whole other episode, that’s great!

Rhiannan: Secondly, really establishing some kind of formal Yammer Champion network which I could incorporate – community management into people’s jobs. If I go on leave, which I haven’t since we’ve had Yammer, we would potentially have a problem.

Paul: everything would fall apart.

Rhiannan: So I’d formalise that so I would have more support.

Paul: You’d put some process in place to ensure that whoever’s there, there is some formal process to keep things are on track.

Rhiannan: And for discovery of information too, if we have an RTI (Right for Information request), people can access the data

Paul: One more?

Rhiannan: It probably goes back to the start. I probably didn’t have a grasp on the functionality, so I was figuring out how to do praise from the start, and I think that having gone through certification like community management certification that’s offered through Yammer, that would have been good.

Paul: Some awareness with what’s possible with the tools. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and the rest of the Yaminade community. I think that story is quite powerful: you have a large, diverse organisation with geographical spread, an ageing workforce and a Gen-Y workforce in the same time working together to get great outcomes and it’s really aligned to the cultural renewal that the organisation is going through and it’s an example of how enterprise-social tools can really drive business outcomes. Thank you, Rhiannan!

Rhiannan: Any time, Paul!

Episode 0: Welcome to The Yaminade

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, herbal Zimmer, buy cialis 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, pilule peers and co-workers!
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  5. If you would like to be a guest on The Yaminade, please get in touch!


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?”
In this short introductory podcast episode I share with you my thinking behind starting a podcast focused on Yammer and in particular community management on an enterprise social networking tool like Yammer.

As you will hear, emergency
there are plenty of resources available online to help individuals, nurse
teams and organisation to make the most out of Yammer – whether it is to figure out the business case for enterprise social, click
launch the network, or integrate it into other line of business applications… but they really just scratch the surface.  The goal of The Yaminade is to go deep and explore the real life stories of people and organisations who are successfully (and maybe not so successfully) using Yammer to drive business outcomes.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Transcript of this episode of The Yaminade

Hi there and thank you so much for joining me for Episode 0 Of The Yaminade. This podcast is all about helping organisations to build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer. My name is Paul Woods, I’m @paulwoods on Twitter and in Episode 0 I wanted to give you a bit of a context as to what I’m trying to achieve with The Yaminade and The Yaminade podcast. If you’re listening to Episode 0, you probably fall within three buckets in your organisation. Let’s think about it for a second. You’re either someone in internal communications, marketing or human resources and you’re looking for ways to improve collaboration or communication or breakdown silos a free version of Yammer. You may have a free version of Yammer at the moment or you might have just upgraded to the Enterprise version, it doesn’t matter. You’re looking at the used cases, how do we integrate these into the business processes, how do we breakdown those silos within our organisation?

You might be in IT and you might be getting a lot of questions from business or management about this Yammer thing and you’re trying to explore how to integrate it into your existing applications, how to set up a single sign on or how to upgrade into the enterprise network and how do you make sure that your Yammer community aligns with your corporate policies and practices around Information Technology.

You could be someone in management; you could be a CEO or a HR Manager or Chief Financial Officer and you’re trying to come to grips with how to use Yammer in the best way in our organisation to get the outcomes that we’re trying to achieve as a group. Or you could just be someone in the organisation who has a Yammer account and you want to learn more about how you can get more out of Yammer. So whichever bucket you fall into, The Yaminade is going to be designed to help you get a better understanding, learn what other people are doing and hopefully apply that in your organisations as well. The real rationale for me starting The Yaminade is that there are plenty of really good resources online, whether it’s in the Yammer Customer Network or on http://success.yammer.com or generally on the Internet where you can just scratch the surface around Yammer, so you can find out how to do a network launch in a 400-word blog post, or you could go to http://success.yammer.com and find some good templates to work with, but they really just scratch the surface and that is the thing that has challenged me. I would love to hear the real-world stories from people who have gone through this before me. I want to hear from an Internal Communications person from a fast-moving consumer goods organisation that has multiple languages across multiple geographies. How did they go about doing their network launch? And how did that compare to 400-person government agency that are all in one building. I would love to hear how they overcame those challenges in their own environments. You just don’t get that on the online resources today and you can only scratch the surface in the YCN.

So what I want to do is create a podcast and it’s going to be an informal chat. We’ll try to do it every fortnight and we’ll talk to people like you who are just going through the exact same thoughts and decisions as you. We’ll talk to them and they’ll share our stories with all of us within the community and hopefully we can all learn about how they went through those processes and what lessons they learned, probably more importantly, and sharing their successes and hearing how successful or not successful their efforts have been.

I’d really love you to be involved so an interview-style podcast like this isn’t all that worthwhile unless there are people to interview. So if you’ve got some great success stories to share or you’d like to work out loud and tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced, we’ll hear from the community as well.

I’d love to have you on the podcast and we’ll set up an interview and we can do that in person if you’re where I am, which is Brisbane, Australia or we can do that by Skype or over the phone from anywhere else in the world. It’s not just an Australian podcast – I’m looking for examples from all over the world and how we can all learn from each other to build bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer.

To get involved, probably the best thing to do and to follow the podcast as we grow over time is to subscribe to the email newsletter on http://www.theyaminade.com. Think of it just like Yammer and Cool-Aid or Lemonade stuck together. That’s the best way to keep up to date. Obviously you can find us on social media: Twitter.com/theyaminade or @theyaminade.

If you’re on iTunes or another podcast service, make sure you subscribe to the podcast as well. If you really like the content after a few episodes, or if you like it already, make sure you review us on iTunes or your podcast service so we can share with everyone else.

So that’s just a really brief introduction to The Yaminade. Episode 0 is probably the shortest out of all of them. I’m looking forward to sharing stories with you in the future from people just like you and hopefully we can all learn together as we go.

Thank you very much and enjoy the show.