Episode 14: Recognition Programs, Strategic Planning and Yammer Analytics with Melanie Hohertz from Cargill

Recently I had the great pleasure of talking on Skype with Melanie Hohertz (@Hohertz3)- the Online Communication Lead at Cargill.  In this episode of The Yaminade – the podcast dedicated to building bigger and better engaged communities on Yammer – we talk about how the Yammer network at Cargill has developed over the past two years.  In particular we discuss things like recognition programs using enterprise social, there
facilitating open and transparent strategic planning workshops, culture, and geek out a little bit regarding Yammer network metrics.

To be honest we could have talked for hours… and we had been talking for about 15 minutes when this episode starts.  It is a jam packed 49 minutes full of actionable insight you can apply to your own Yammer network today.

Thank you for the support of our sponsors tyGraph who have helped us cover the cost of bringing this podcast to you!  Support the organisations that support The Yaminade – and try tyGraph on your Yammer network today to surface metrics with meaning!

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 11: The ROI of Enterprise Social and Collaboration / Machine Learning and the future of Work with Naomi Moneypenny (Part 2)

In Episode 10 of The Yaminade we kicked of a great discussion with Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny).  After hearing Naomi’s interesting back story – including how she created one of the first Intranets in Europe – we dove into how ManyWorlds Inc (and Synxi) use Yammer to deliver innovative research and products to customers with a team distributed right across the world.

In this Episode – Part 2 of the chat with Naomi, generic
we explore:

  • how to define and articulate the return on investment in Enterprise Social or Collaboration projects – taking a business process orientated approach.  If you are trying to build a business case for Yammer – or trying to justifiy its impact – this is must listen content!;
  • this thing called the “social graph”; and
  • how things like recommendation engines and machine learning are going to change the way we work in the future

Links from this episode:

Streamling It Out Loud – a great tool to display what is happening in your digital network in your physical world!  I loved Naomi’s use case of using this on tablets beside executive’s desks so they could casually watch what was happening in the network without having to keep checking!

Synxi – the machine learning enterprise social recommendation engine.

NaomiMoneypenny.com – where you can dive deep on content and presentations that Naomi is delivering

 

By the way – if you love using the Stitcher app on your iPhone or Android device – you will be very happy to know that you can now listen to all past and future episodes of The Yaminade from your favourite podcast app.  Make sure you subscribe via Stitcher today!

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Episode 10: Machine Learning and No Internal Email with Naomi Moneypenny from Synxi (Part 1 of 2)

Recently I had the great pleasure of spending 90 minutes on Skype with Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny).  After hearing Naomi’s interesting back story – including how she created one of the first Intranets in Europe – we start diving deep into how ManyWorlds Inc (and Synxi) use Yammer to deliver innovative research and products to customers with a team distributed right across the world.

Key takeaways this week include:

  • how to use Yammer to reduce (and ultimately eliminate) internal email from your organisation
  • how to give executives visibility to what is going on in your Yammer network (without having to do ANOTHER) executives on Yammer training course
  • what it is like to do escape training from Oil Rigs in the North Sea!

In Episode 11 – the second part of our discussion with Naomi, sick  we dive deeper into the Return on Investment in Yammer, pilule SharePoint and other collaborative technologies… recommendation engines and machine learning… and how organisations can leverage the social graph to create, more innovate and ultimately perform better!

Links from this episode:

Streamling It Out Loud – a great tool to display what is happening in your digital network in your physical world!  I loved Naomi’s use case of using this on tablets beside executive’s desks so they could casually watch what was happening in the network without having to keep checking!

Synxi – the machine learning enterprise social recommendation engine.

NaomiMoneypenny.com – where you can dive deep on content and presentations that Naomi is delivering

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

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

In this short and sharp episode you will hear:

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

See you in the new year!

 

Transcript of Episode 9 of The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah: And it doesn’t stop the idiots!

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

Sarah: Tone of voice is within the style guide…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Absolutely.

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

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

2) Get your middle management on board.

Paul: [Laughs] steal the middle management from Workcover

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

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

Paul: Very good.

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

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

 

Episode 8: Using Yammer as the Digital Backchannel of your conference or event

This week I had the pleasure of traveling to speak at the BETT Asia Leadership Summit – held at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.  In the School Leaders Academy (the track that I was speaking) we used Yammer as the digital learning space for 150 educators who were participating in the program.  Whilst I was there I pulled out my portable digital audio recorder and captured some thoughts.

Learn how we integrated Yammer into the presentation and workshop sessions, Mycoplasmosis
increasing cross cultural collaboration across language barriers and building a resource that could be referred to months after the event.

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!

 

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

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

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

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

 

Resources from this week’s episode of The Yaminade:

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

Other great people mentioned during this episode and their content:

John Stepper@johnstepper

 

Harold Jarche@jarche

Bryce Williams@thebryceswrite

Jane Bozarth@janebozarth

Johnathon Anthony@thismuchweknow

Austen Hunter@austenhunter

Luis Suarez – @elsua

Eric Kraus@erickraus

Transcript of Episode 6 of The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Yeah, the time you’re spending –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simon: Thanks Paul and thanks for the opportunity

Episode 5: Steven Piotrowski from Microsoft (and Aon)

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

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

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

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

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Transcript of Episode 5 of The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steven: That’s exactly right, Paul

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

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

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

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

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

Steven: That’s it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Just without all the money!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steven: The foundation of innovation is sharing

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Not at all, catch you later

Stefani Butler

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

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