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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this short and sharp episode you will hear:

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

See you in the new year!


Transcript of Episode 9 of The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah: And it doesn’t stop the idiots!

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

Sarah: Tone of voice is within the style guide…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Absolutely.

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

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

2) Get your middle management on board.

Paul: [Laughs] steal the middle management from Workcover

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

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

Paul: Very good.

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

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


007 – Group strategy and using Yammer for Disaster Recovery with Hayley Bushell from Workcover Queensland

One of the most common questions we get from customers is “how do I do groups in Yammer?”.  Should I just let anyone create a group and hope for the best, population health or should I put some structure around it?  In this week’s episode of The Yaminade I talk to Hayley Bushell from Workcover Queensland.  She shares with us the strategy and structure they put around group creation, and other structural information technology tactics which has resulted in every employee actively engaging within their Yammer community.

Since the G20 Leaders Summit just wrapped up in Brisbane (where we both live) we discuss how Yammer was positioned as a key disaster recovery and business continuity tool in case the worst occurred over the G20 weekend (thankfully it didn’t, but still a great story to share!)

Transcript of Episode 7 of The Yaminade

Paul: Hi everyone and welcome to The Yamindade. My name is Paul Woods, you can find me @paulwoods on Twitter. Today I have a very special guest with me today from Workcover Queensland, it’s Hayley Bushell, welcome to the podcast!

Hayley: Hi everyone, it’s Hayley from Workcover Queensland. I’m a Senior Solutions Consultant with Workcover Queensland and Workcover Queensland is workers’ insurance in Queensland, for injured. We provide over 150,000 policies for employees and it covers them for work-related injuries. We introduced Yammer probably about four years ago in late 2010 and we started off on the free version of Yammer.

Paul: Brilliant, that’s good!

Hayley: Yeah, definitely start on the free one. Like most people, it was the one person who said “hey, let’s try this out”. The one person happened to be in IT which I believe is unusual as most companies don’t start in IT… So for us that started in 2010 and grew to the point in 2012 where we decided to head down the enterprise version and we rolled it out to all of our people. It was a sort-of launch and we now have around 850 employees using Yammer and that is actually every one of our employees, so we encourage all our employees to join up.

Paul: Just before we get into it, I am a very happy Workcover customer. I once sliced my thumb open on an umbrella walking into my office, so I’ve used Workcover services and know that they do good stuff. What I want to talk to Hayley about is groups. What do you do with groups? Should we make them public or private? Most people we talk to say “let them make their own groups” but Workcover did things a little differently. Quickly talk through how you’re using groups in Workcover and how your managers are using those groups.

Hayley: Slightly different to most people… When we launched from the enterprise version back in 2012, we had strategy around it. We wanted it to guide people in how they used Yammer… we wanted it to grow organically as well, but we wanted people to feel comfortable. We set up six or seven groups to start with and now we have 14 groups that are actively being used. We tend to encourage people not to create groups, which I know is a bit different to how other companies use Yammer. The reason we do that is to break down silos and share information across a wider audience, so having more posts in fewer groups will allow people to share more information.

Paul: Give us some more information about those groups, what are they called?

Hayley: We have a standard one, so the whole company feed and a manager one where our managers post newsworthy items. This is the one that’s integrated into the homepage of our intranet, so this is the news you must know. The all company feed is nice to know stuff, where other content goes. We have other groups such as the claims chart, which is where all the claims-related stuff goes and then we’ve got a premium chart, so that’s for that side of thing…

Paul: Premiums as in those you collect from customers, not premium as in the best people, no?

Hayley: Yeah, exactly, insurance premiums. We have a group called Grapevine, yeah, ‘you heard it on the grapevine’, which is our social group where we get a lot of image content coming through, if you’re having a morning tea or competition, you find that people post images on there, comment and like. That’s a really nice one. We also have a couple of posters in there who will invite the whole organisation to Friday night drinks, that’s a really nice one and there’s a good social atmosphere in that group. We have a managers only group which is like a team agenda so we put things in there that we’d like them to raise in team meetings. Of course we still have face-to-face meetings within our organisations but we’ll post in there with things we want our managers to raise in the team meeting… I guess it’s a way for people to get the same message.

Paul: Is that public or private?

Hayley: That one is a private group, so you’ll have to be accepted to join that group… just to make sure the right people are in that group. We have an internet chatter group which is about the intranet and making sure it stays really fresh. We have a WC Tech group there and a lot of our Yammer stuff goes in there. We’ve just released a new app so our app and technology-related updates go there. We have a few private groups… we manage our BCP (Business Continuity Planning) through Yammer so it’s great way to make sure it’s not dependent on our internal systems. In light of G20, we have introduced one that updates all our Workcover staff so if there’s an incident in Brisbane City, we can inform our employees if they are out of the office.

Paul: so your disaster communication… thankfully nothing happened!

Hayley: No, it was very uneventful in Brisbane, but if something did happen, that would have been through Yammer

Paul: That’s a great overview of what you’re doing today. I want to hear about your journey to get to today. How did you get 800 people, your whole organisation, on board? What tactics do you use to get people aware of what Yammer was, how to use it, what it’s supposed to be used for, what value we can get out of it?

Hayley: It was fairly unstructured before we launched the enterprise version in 2012. At that point we introduced the Directory Sync (DSync tool) which will send an email automatically as we create an AD (Active Directory) account for one of our new people. Then they’ll set it up the active directory account and the people will get an email saying to join Yammer. You don’t have to join Yammer at that point, I guess that’s when the management side of things kick in. Our middle managers are amazing, they love Yammer, it’s almost a bit of a competition –

Paul: Where do you find these people? With every other organisation –

Hayley: Yeah they love it –

Paul: Why do they love it?

Hayley: I think it’s a culture thing. Right from the top down, it’s encouraged. And it’s the only form of communication. We don’t do bulk email, no distribution lists, no other form of bulk communication other than Yammer. We’ve put Yammer updates on the intranet, so it’s become part of the culture, part of the everyday so for that I’m really thankful our middle managers get on board. As part of the new-start process we have guidelines and a checklist which includes “have you signed your person up to Yammer? Have you signed up? Have you walked them through it and made them feel comfortable using it?”

Paul: Integrated into your on-board process?

Hayley: Definitely. I think that’s number one. When I talked about governance and the groups we have, I made a post on the intranet so people knew what they could post, just to help make people feel comfortable when posting, not going out on a limb. If it’s someone’s first post, we gave an example “you can post this kind of thing” which made people feel comfortable. That probably helped quite a bit. In saying that, one of the challenges and lessons learned is that we get a lot of those posts so it can be a bit samesy.

Paul: Give me a few examples by what you mean by people posting the same thing.

Hayley: We encourage people to praise, so if we receive a compliment through the website or on the phone, we encourage one of the managers to put up a praise, a thumbs up and post the praise saying “such and such has done this job”. Obviously it’s a very good thing, I can’t criticise praise, but we tend to get a lot of those posts.

Paul: This is the exact opposite of every other organisation in the world where managers are giving praise to their people and you’re complaining –

Hayley: – I’m not complaining, I’m saying we could probably work on it… Maybe a question type scenario to make it more meaningful. In terms of asking questions, it’s about putting yourself out there. Instead of just turning and asking the person next to you, you should put it on Yammer because instead of having one person answer you, you have the possibility of getting 850 people to respond to you, not that you’d want them all to respond but at least then everyone knows the answer, one person can tweak it. Whereas if you praise someone and just say “good job”, then that follow through is not really there.

Paul: That makes sense. So Middle managers are on board, what about senior executives?

Hayley: Again, I’m really lucky. We have a very flat structure, around 5 GMs then middle management under that and then team leads. For top-level management, it’s really good. They like and comment all the post, it’s great. Our CEO even posts, he’s not a habitual poster but that’s his form of communication, so if we have a big announcement or anything, he’ll get on board and post on Yammer.

Paul: It sounds like a lot of great success in getting people involved in the network and building that community. I’d like to hear some of the great success stories you’ve seen from the Yammer community over the last four years, no matter how big or how small –

Hayley: – it’s hard to pin them down! As part of the Claims group that we have, we are all about returning to work and health benefits at work, making sure injury workers can return to work, so we post good return to work stories on the claims chat and tag them with our industry.

Paul: – capturing customer stories

Hayley: yeah, and that helps for our communications team as we may use those externally as well and help to link other like employers, who can talk and learn from this, that’s been really positive and helped. Another one is that we needed to update our boring claim form –

Paul: – every organisation’s got forms!

Hayley: We posted the form and said “we’re going to make some changes” and had so many responses, it was fantastic!

Paul: What were some of the responses? “We need this extra field here because of x, y and z?”

Hayley: “this is a problem when the customer fills this in, this would be better if they could do it that way to help the customer out” and it came from all parts of the business, so it didn’t matter if you were from claims, communications, management or you had just started, you could provide insight into that.

Paul: You’ve taken part of your core business process which is the claims process and made it more effective by using the network to influence what it looks like, brilliant!

Hayley: It was pretty responsive because if you took a hard copy to people around the business, it would take a lot of time but this way within a few days we had a lot of responses, so it was very timely.

Paul: Earlier on we were talking about the need for community management. You don’t have a Community Manager, so talk me through how much of your role is dedicated to Yammer? I guess with the support of the middle management team it’s probably not as much as you would normally need…

Hayley: I’d say probably 5% of my role is dedicated to Yammer

Paul: A couple of hours per week

Hayley: If that. I’m on Yammer ‘cos I love it. I think it’s an awesome tool and I can see the benefits of it. I’m forever adding topics to post and things like that…

Paul: curating the content, adding a bit more structure so you could find it later on

Hayley: Yeah. If we had fifty groups like other people have, it would be more difficult, but because we have a limited number of groups, it makes things a bit easier to manage. In saying that, we do have a few external networks and people assigned to looking after those, so I’m not actually involved in those ones. I think community management is something that, if you’re going to grow your Yammer network into everything it could be, I think definitely a Community Manager or someone who has ownership over that part of the network would be a really good thing… maybe in the future?!

Paul: You said earlier, “we only have 800 people, maybe we don’t need a Community Manager, maybe we do”, where do you think is that sweet spot? Where is that watermark where you say “we need some dedicated resources to grow this?”

Hayley: I think it depends on where you are in the journey and the types of people… If you have a network of Gen-Y who are on top of social, they’ll probably self-moderate anyway. But depending on your workforce, if you have people who are uncomfortable with social or blogging, it’s more important to have that help.

Paul: The mix of the workforce… Workforce is a…

Hayley: I would call us more private sector

Paul: What’s the mix of the workforce?

Hayley: I don’t know off the top of my head. I believe we are predominately female. A lot of our management is quite young, which is why I our middle management are so on board with Yammer and that probably helps us. Any organisation of any kind needs champions and that’s one thing we don’t have as structured as what we could… maybe a private group where Yammer champions could talk together on how to improve things and make our Yammer network better. We’re in a good place but there’s always room for improvement and you can always get more out of it.

Paul: Everyone’s engaged because you’re not sending emails in bulk outside of that core communication channel. What is next? Think forward twelve, eighteen months, how do you see Yammer being used within Workcover?

Hayley: We could probably get to the point where people feel a bit more comfortable exposing yourself [laughs] exposing in terms of asking the question! You don’t need to know all the answers, Not everyone knows all the answers to everything and there’s nothing wrong with posting on Yammer and showing that you have a question and maybe someone else does too!

Paul: Almost a communications platform to a knowledge-based, find an expert, engage with an expert within the business…

Hayley: I know that Suncor have brought in a business helpdesk kind of things, in that IT aspect saying “you know you’ve got an issue with this program” bringing that more into the fundamental way you do things.

Paul: like a crowd source support mechanism for IT?

Hayley: yeah, I have this question but someone else in the business might be able to help as they might have had the same issue earlier in the week.

We could definitely use topics and tagging better and being able to search through those. We’re looking at integration. I guess there’s that question of “which tool do I use and when?” What we’ve done to alleviate that is to bring in all of our content on Yammer through to our intranet. That’s where our content lives and it’s the platform where you can get to everything. We don’t really want to change that so we’ve brought in Yammer to help with that. But at the moment it shows one group at a time. You can click through like a tabbed homepage and show groups. What we want to do is bring in content based on trending topics or think about how we do that. If someone tags something with news, that’s how we can bring that in. It’s about making things a bit more relevant on the homepage. If you let it get old, people won’t look at it so we want to make it current and relevant for our people to go there and get the information… Also possibly integrating Yammer into our core systems, to let them know that “hey there’s a new Yammer post to go with this, check it out”.

Paul: That makes sense. Thank you for sharing the story about Workcover and using Yammer. There are very few users who have been on Yammer for four years, so it’s great to hear from a customer who has gone through the journey that a lot of people are thinking about going through and has experienced the trials and tribulations, pitfalls and successes along the way. As a nice question to wrap up the conversation, if you had your time over, how would you approach it differently? What would you have done differently, if there are three things you can recommend to people?

Hayley: Although the governance thing has worked for our organisation, it’s probably limited in some ways and I’d like to see it take on a bit more organic growth as opposed to –

Paul: In terms of being structured –

Hayley: yeah, now that people feel comfortable using it and going there, we can probably do that. That’s probably something I’d change and I’d probably do that a bit sooner.

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

2) get your middle management on board.

Paul: [laughs] Steal the middle management from Workcover

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

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

Paul: Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us today. We’re filming this in a café so if I can’t edit out all the noise, I apologise. Thanks for joining us, Hayley Bushell.

Hayley: Thanks Paul!


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!