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?”

Episode 3: Stan Garfield from Deloitte

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

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

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

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

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Transcript of Episode 3 of The Yaminade

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

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

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

I hope you enjoy my chat with Stan Garfield.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stan: I would say three more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Cheers

Rhiannan talking about her community management journey on Yammer

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

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

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

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

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

Links we discussed during The Yaminade this week…

Remember… the Yaminade is in it’s infancy – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form!

Finally, if you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

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  2. We would love your feedback – leave a comment below!
  3. Sign up to The Yaminade’s newsletter to get semi-regular updates and notifications when new content is published
  4. If you would like to be a guest on The Yaminade, please get in touch!

 

Transcript from Episode 2 of The Yaminade

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

Rhiannan: Hi Paul

Paul: How you doing? [laughs]

Rhiannan: Really good, thanks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Why’s that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhiannan: 215

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

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

Paul: A breathe of fresh air! [laughs]

Rhiannan: Totally!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: And that’s worth a lot

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhiannan: Absolutely.

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

Rhiannan: I think one office has Wi-Fi!

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

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

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

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

Paul: You can choose more than one

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: everything would fall apart.

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

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

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

Paul: One more?

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

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

Rhiannan: Any time, Paul!

Episode 1: Sarah Moran from GO1

This week I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Sarah Moran (@sarahmoran).  As you will hear during this episode Sarah has a lot of experience building “physical communities” (… that sounds bad!  I mean non-digital communities!) and translating that experience to build community around brands like Virgin Australia, seek Tourism Queensland and more.  She is currently the Brand and Marketing Manager at a small but growing application development house called GO1.

In this episode Sarah shares with us some of the exciting, buy information pills and challenging aspects of community management within a small but high growth and geographically dispersed organisaton – with the added complexity of language barriers in her Yammer network.

Links we discussed during The Yaminade this week…

Remember… it is episode one – I haven’t got to the funky podcast opening and closing music yet so please enjoy The Yaminade in it’s rawest form!

Finally, if you like the podcast please support it’s development… there are a number of things you can do:

  1. Subscribe, and if you really like what my guests and I are producing, please leave a review on iTunes!
  2. We would love your feedback – leave a comment below!
  3. Sign up to The Yaminade’s newsletter to get semi-regular updates and notifications when new content is published
  4. If you would like to be a guest on The Yaminade, please get in touch!

 

Transcript of Episode 1 of The Yaminade

Paul:  Today we’re talking to Sarah Moran, our very first guest on The Yaminade so thanks for joining us. If you’re in Australia, Sarah has a bit of an online presence, she’s been around the online management troughs in the online community If you’re so we can get some perspective on what you’re about to share with us?

Sarah: I’m a digital native and lover of all things Internet. But also offline I’ve done a lot of community initiatives. In 2008, did you know, Paul, I was Queensland’s Young Volunteer of the Year?

Paul: Oh congratulations!

Sarah: Thank you, it’s a little feather in my cap there! I think I took my love of building community offline and saw the potential that the Internet had for building community online and how you could build global communities or niche interest communities so I very early got on board with doing that.

Paul: Very good. You’ve worked some pretty amazing brands and amazing campaigns like Virgin Australia and Tourism Queensland

Sarah: Yeah, being able to apply community management in a marketing sense and getting people excited about an idea or concept or place really sparked my interest early. I was Virgin Australia’s first Social Media Manager and was able to build up the online communities for Virgin Australia and Virgin Blue back in the day. I was one of the first full-time Social Media Managers but I would also say Community Managers employed full-time for the brand. After that I was lucky enough to take part in Tourism Queensland’s best job –

Paul: A lot of people listening internationally might not have heard of that one –

Sarah: it’s funny the people you meet and they say “oh you live in Queensland, they have good jobs there, right?”

Paul: That was me!

Sarah: I went a whirlwind tour of the world in 12 days as part of that, building social media content about random hotel rooms in Japan at all hours of the evening… then I went on to work for Tourism Victoria I was @Melbourne on Twitter which was quite a privilege

Paul: And a responsibility

Sarah: Yeah I reckon! The hipsters will have you if you’ll mess with their brand! And being able to build up that content there and that community of people across Facebook and Twitter and a variety of other places. My favourite was YouTube, and I think that that’s something that I think a lot of Community Managers, even now, haven’t fallen in love with in the way I’d like to see.

Paul: And not just externally but internally too, how do you share those stories that occur within your organisation

Sarah: Well when you talk about internal management, there was this funny sort of thing that happened as Social Media Manager, people look to you for being the tech innovation and people want to apply these things internally as much as externally, even in terms of policy, people say “can I share this on Facebook or will I get in trouble?” [laughs]

Paul: Exactly. Policy is one of those things we get a lot of questions about. What is the right policy to place and then more importantly how do we reduce that between policy and practice. It’s all very well having a policy but if you don’t follow it or it’s not something people can understand and it can’t be execute on, it’s going to be a challenge!

Sarah: It’s one of those funny things that unless I’m friends with that person on Facebook I don’t know that they’ve posted it but how nice is it that they want to post about work to their friends and family.

Paul: Yeah, it’s a place that people want to work!

Sarah: I’ve been very privileged to be able to work with a number of high-profile brands and at the same time, given that the roles will always be innovative, be able to apply them externally and internally.

Paul: Brilliant. The focus of this podcast is about internal community management, though you can use Yammer to build external communities, which is probably a discussion for another day. Talk me through your current role and some of the things you’re trying to achieve with GO1, which I’m sure you’ll talk about in a second and look at how you’re trying to build a community within that community by using the tools that are available to you.

Sarah: At the minute I’m working as Director of Marketing for GO1 and we build a number of different Enterprise products but we are also massive users of Office 365. When I introduced the CEO to Yammer, he wanted to do it for a while but he didn’t have the capacity to champion it as a natural Community Manager, and I’m a natural Community Manager.

Paul: Yes

Sarah: In fact I made a vow to myself that I won’t work for a company if they don’t use Yammer as it’s very reflective of them. If the group of people working there haven’t demanded it, then it’s not the place for me. We have offices across Australia and across the world. Being able to community globally within a company is 1) very important and 2) very exciting, to be able to get real-time ideas on feedback or marketing concepts means I’m not in a silo as the Marketing Director, everyone can contribute to ideas and make them better which has been really amazing to see.

Paul: It’s intereting. You talk about being a global organisation, where are your offices located?

Sarah: Vietnam, San Francisco, we’ve got a couple of offices in Australia and we’re about to open up in the UK.

Paul: So obviously there’s a big language barrier between San Francisco and Australia, with Australian English and American English and the z’s and s’s, but the interesting one for me is Vietnam. There’s obviously a language barrier there. How did you go about creating or engaging a community when English isn’t their first language?

Sarah: One of the best things for us is encouraging people to talk with photos and animated gifs which are the universal language of the Internet.

Paul: Cats and gifs, yeah!

Sarah: That has really helped us engage. What we didn’t have before we started our Yammer network was, you know, that you might see a name in an email but you might not have any awareness of who they are as a human that you’re working with. So we were able to empower them to share as they would and without policy. I live in the privileged world of start-ups and policy comes second! [laughs]

Paul: We’ll worry about that later

Sarah: We were able to build up this sense of engagement through logos and other language that isn’t just words. Also we brought on a team member who enthusiastically, if necessary, would translate. For us, that was really good as we don’t speak Vietnamese. But to know that there is that same amount of love going into messages and translations was really good.

Paul: Very good. From a global perspective that’s really interesting. The other angle I’d love to explore is building community within a start-up or within a small team. I’m assuming in the start-up world the team would be pretty close already, is that generally the case?

Sarah: That’s probably the biggest hurdle you face when you bring on new team members. Once you’ve hired all your friends [laughs] you need to reach outside that for certain skill-sets, We’ve definitely gone through that organisationally of, “ok we need to grow our capacity, so how do you, in a start-up, bring on new team members without a formal induction process?” so we use hashtags to say “oi newbie, look over here”

Paul: #newbie

Sarah: and that’s great because in an organisation you should only have to answer a question once. That’s how I feel about Yammer and it’s biggest value for me is that I can answer a question once in one place and know that it lives there and people can just search. Like “oh how do I fix the printer?” “I’m sure the printer has been broken before”.

Paul: The printer’s always broken anyway!

Sarah: Internal search for that person. So they don’t have that inhibition around asking questions because if they’re asking a question, we know that they’ve checked to see if it’s been asked before so they shouldn’t feel bad.

Paul: Have you put anything formally around that process, like a note which points people to what they need to look at first or is it still pretty organic?

Sarah: It’s reasonably organic, except there is one post that I created as an intentional get started post. It goes “here’s the software we use and here is how we use it” because software these days has multiple functionalities. But the culture within an organisation determines how technology tends to be used.

Paul: Technology isn’t deterministic, it’s how you adopt company engagement that makes the real difference.

Sarah: Exactly, and I’m like “this is what we use for internal chat and this is where this lives” so that is a pinned post, so people check that post first and if people feel the need to add something to it they can

Paul: It’s interesting. Something that we get questions around all the time is “I’ve got Yammer, I’ve got Salesforce Chatter, I’ve got Link through Office 365, I’ve got email, I’ve got Sharepoint and I’m supposed to be doing something with Sharepoint, I’ve got some Atlassian product that I’m supposed to be doing something with this as well, I’ve got Whatsapp, Cotap, which one do I use when?” is one of those things that people struggle to navigate. Even with that guidance, is that solving the problem for people or are people still having the challenge of wondering which tool to use when?

Sarah: I think that will always be a problem when a program can do more than one thing or there’s more than one product to do one thing and that’s ok but where it covers the gap is “in my old organisation I used this like this, in your organisation, how do you use it?” so even if people are familiar with the products, it just gives them a bit of a roadmap to say “in this organisation, this is the lay of the land” and as we bring more people in, we’re getting more insights on how to use these products better

Paul: New blood brings in new experience.

Sarah: That feedback loop that can sit in Yammer.

Paul: As we kinda opened with, you’ve been on the scene for a little bit and you’ve explored different organisations. Because you’re a name that a lot of people are familiar with from people who are just starting out how they build engagement within their own networks. What are the kind of questions you get and what are the 30-seconds-or-less answers that you give people so you can move on with your day?

Sarah: I think one of the big things is “how do I start?” because people have this fear that they don’t want to get egg on their faces if it goes wrong. “I want to champion this, it’s got my name on it, how do I not stuff it up?” and one of the things I really recommend is to have a pre-planned core group of users to start off with, people who are happy to get going. So start small and then build it out. One of the organisations I worked for when we launched our Yammer network, you know how you can add contracts from your address book and invite them all, that happened and I was like “no, it’s too soon!” [laughs] but it came from a very senior person so what it accidentally did was add this clout to it.

Paul: Executive sponsorship!

Sarah: Exactly! So he accidentally championed it which was great

Paul: best Manager ever! [laughs]

Sarah: I was like “Thanks, my record might have increased slightly now that we have 300 users!” What else? Probably just about how to maintain community within a formal organisational structure. “But we’re so conservative.” And you say “but how awesome is it that you have a space to not be” and you can give people permission to share beyond… like an email is so formal and it’s great is it to liberate people from that?

Paul: One of the things that I have seen within our organisation but also with customers is executives at the top of organisations definitely see the benefit in it: breaking down silos, giving people an opportunity to voice opinions and ideas and let them surface to people who can make a difference, people on the ground love it because they feel more connected. The people that absolutely hate it with a passion are Middle Managers as their primary role is to manage communication up and down the chain. The forward-thinking Middle Managers use it to their advantage to maintain control and elevate their position in the organisation from a perception point of view or connect with people to get things done. But there’s this middle management layer which feels a loss of control when it comes to it. I think for me that’s one of the biggest – the question I get is “I wonder how you get that middle management to want to participate and let go of control of communication within the team and then if I get egg on my face, I’m waiting for that next job when my manager dies or moves on…”

Sarah: It’s funny how that’s applied, they think “if I don’t use it, it won’t happen”, it’s like “no sorry, this has already happened, are you coming?” And that’s ok, but what I tend to do or recommend people do is have offline conversations about it. Then it tends to happen via social pressure. But it’s funny when those people come across to the dark side, they become “oh I get it now!” and I’m like “I’m glad you’re there”

Paul: “what were you scared of?” It’s the fear of the unknown and no matter how much you try and talk to people about the value of it, it’s not until they see it and get their hands dirty, I think that’s the “aha” moment. We get questions around security, “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 system 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 a challenge!

Sarah: And it doesn’t stop the idiots!

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

Sarah: Tone of voice is within the style guide…

Paul: Interesting… That’s something I’d never thought about before, as when you’re thinking of policy, I thought about external use of IT as a policy as a go-to, but there are always policies there that are already in place

Sarah: It’s not the first time two humans have had a conversation.

Paul: Actually it might be depending on who you have at work [laughs] because it gives people a voice who’ve never had a voice before, that man in the mailroom in the basement, he’s finally got the chance to talk to someone.

Sarah: [laughs] yeah and how awesome is that, that people can buy into the bigger vision of the company that they can go home and be like “what happened at work today?” “Well actually we just released a new product and all these people are using it and I contributed to that.”

Paul: And be part of the team. One of the questions that a lot of people have is when they’re starting out on this “that’s all very well and good, but what’s the ROI… how do we get a return on this? We’ve got to spend money on a platform, whether it’s Yammer or something else, we’ve got to spend money, potentially, hopefully on community management to put someone in a full-time or part-time capacity to manage this thing and nurture this thing, that’s going to cost us money. How do we calculate the return that we’re going to get by using this tool?”

Sarah: I struggle with that one as I don’t work with organisations who don’t get the value of accelerating the way in which we get things done. For me, I can get things done quicker and that’s the Return on Investment. One thing we don’t measure is how many emails people check and the time spent archiving or filing emails.

Paul: Most of it is boring stuff that doesn’t need responding to.

Sarah: Yeah, and for me Yammer allows me the massive opportunity to not to send a group email, so straight up that’s 5, 6, 10, 100 inboxes that don’t take the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 seconds to read and delete

Paul: and then the 15 minute cognitive lag when you’ve thought about something else and can’t get back on track.

Sarah: Exactly, and we’re not measuring that at the moment anyway so I can’t say “you’ll save this off your bottom line” but you will get things done more efficiently and more intelligently. Getting the right information at the right time, how do you measure that? At the moment we don’t but one day we will. So I’m like “hmm sorry, you don’t get it!” I avoid those questions.

Paul: Fair enough. It’s interesting that all the points you make there are pretty spot-on. A lot of the stuff people want to measure in Yammer, we don’t actually measure today: we don’t measure engagement. Some people try to in satisfaction surveys “would you recommend this place as a great place to work? Do you like the way we communicate?” and you get an arbitrary measure like “last year we were 4.23 now we’re 4.25” it doesn’t really mean anything!

Sarah: It feels good!

Paul: From a platform point of view, you’re not really talking about much money to put this technology lubricant into an organisation that will help connect people and understand their context or expertise and how you can apply their skills to help solve your problem or vice versa… all that qualitative stories that you pick up within organisations about how this tool has changed the way we have done something or helped us get a deal that we were never going to get before or help bring a product to market to solve a problem we didn’t know existed before someone in the network thought about it, explored it and we took it to market as a commercial product.

Sarah: and that’s the thing on ROIs is that they often look backwards because they go “this is what we have spent and then we spent this, what was the difference?” Well actually, if having a network of people that can talk to each other allows a sale that never would have otherwise been a discussion point come into being, where does that get measured, how does that get captured?

Paul: Profit line [laughs]

Sarah: I don’t know if that’s the best place to measure [laughs]

Paul: It’s all about people’s satisfaction and all that kind of stuff. Irrespective of whether you’re a commercial organisation like yours or mine or government agency or a non-profit, all those things apply. Even in a non-profit sense, if you go back to your volunteer experience and connect volunteers and share experiences so you’re not wasting volunteer time –

Sarah: It’s incredible, if they have a high level of engagement they will come back. “I didn’t feel like I just wasted my time, these people valued my time, I will volunteer for them again”.

Paul: I was volunteer in the Queensland State Emergency Services for five years and we had a good in-person community within our group, but there were other experiences that people were exposed to in other depots or regions around the state. Having a tool like this would have been so good from a learning example so we could learn from others. For example if a group of people who have just been to a motor crash, we could learn from the complex problem of getting someone out of the car and into the ambulance and it could be really good from two points of view. One is the decompression in getting it all out and reflecting. But doesn’t have to be a motor accident, it could be that tender presentation that you just lost or you just won! How do you decompress from that, how do you share the learnings from that with your team or organisation? Irrespective of what company you’re in, there’s a much bigger value in play here within the organisation… I’m trying to think what else we can talk about. This is the first one, so it’s been a bit rough but I think we’re getting there which is good!

Sarah: No, it’s great! I think what’s next in terms of community management internally… Yammer is now a purchase-based, it’s been purchased by Microsoft, it’s now mainstream –

Paul: it’s not cool anymore.

Sarah: No, it’s all good, “you’ve still got it guys, I love you” but I guess now it’ll be great to see what happens in a post-Yammer world. I’m really excited to see what kind of applications will come out of it. For us, now that we use Yammer every day, we’re conscious of what that does for our products. “well you know, if you can do this in Yammer, why can’t you do it in a LMS or CRM”, but the platform will allow us to have many different ways of communicating incorporated into our products

Paul: We’re seeing that with Microsoft as well. Yammer was sitting there on the side but now it’s integrated into more and more platforms, whether it’s shared online or Dynamics CRM or whatever the product is, there’ll be some sort of Yammer hook where you can take whatever you’re working on, that content, and get it into the community as a contextual conversation, irrespective of the platform and that’s the exciting thing. I think it’s going to happen not just in Yammer networks or Microsoft products, but through other products as well around the world. It’s really interesting.

Sarah: It’s exciting!

Paul: I think a good question to close on is: if you’re starting out, what are the three things that you would focus on to help take you from zero to a growing, well-engaged network?

Sarah: The first thing that I would do is to know that it will take time. You don’t start a network overnight, so being able to say “I’m going to commit to this for X period of time, be it one month or three or six” and know that’s the investment you’re going to put in up-front before you will see the results. The second tip, as I mentioned earlier, is this idea of a few people who are on your side who you can say to “I’m going to do this, here’s what you need to do to spark conversation and make this thing come alive”. And the third thing is, don’t give up! So that goes back to number one. But do keep at it and know that it will pay off and will pay off in unexpected ways, that’s the best bit. You can predict that something will happen and you can also predict that you don’t know what that something is, and that’s pretty great!

Paul: Thank you for joining us on our very first episode of The Yaminade. Plug time, if people want to listen to Sarah Moran, where can we find you?

Sarah: I’m always on Twitter @sarahmoran and I’d love you to check our learning management system Aduro: http://adurolms.com/

Sarah: Aduro is Latin for “flame”.

Paul: Beautiful, I’ll put a link on the podcast if people didn’t catch that. Thanks Sarah

Sarah: Thanks for having me!

Set your Out of Office message in Yammer

So you are about to go on that big family holiday?  Or you might be traveling interstate or overseas for work?  Either way chances are you already set an out of office reply for your email.  Usually we turn on our OOF message to set an expectation that you will not be as quick (or will not) respond to communication whilst we are away.  So how do we do that in our enterprise social network – especially where we may participate in our home community, no rx as well as other external networks?

There is no “built in” out of office functionality in Yammer – and to be honest an auto-reply style out of office message like your email one wouldn’t work all that well in a community.  But remember this isn’t about sending emails to people after they try to get in touch with you – it is about setting an expectation that you will be a bit slow in participating in the conversation.

The most effective method I have come across I learned from watching the Yammer Customer Success Managers within the YCN.  Whenever they are travelling, migraine or away on leave you will see their name appear like this…

First Name Last Name (OOF->23 Sep)… or
First Name Last Name ( ? Seattle )

What I like about this is that wherever you see that individual’s name within your Yammer network, myocarditis or the network you are participating in, you know straight away that you will not get a reply straight away – and alternatively if you are in the city they are, you know you have a great chance to catch up in person.

So how do you set up your “Yammer Out of Office”?  All we are doing is just changing our surname in our profile.

  1. Log into Yammer
  2. Click on the “. . .” (More) button in the top right hand side of your Yammer screen
  3. Click “Edit Profile”
  4. Simply add your message to the end of your surname, for example…

     

     

  5. Click Save

Now everywhere in Yammer where I have posted, where I am mentioned, or even my search results all include my little out of office message. Just like this..

It is as simple as that. To turn your “out of office” off again, just repeat the process, but just leave your surname in the “Last Name” field.

Episode 0: Welcome to The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

  1. Share The Yaminade with your friends, pilule peers and co-workers!
  2. Subscribe, and if you really like what my guests and I are producing, please leave a review on iTunes!
  3. We would love your feedback – leave a comment below!
  4. Sign up to The Yaminade’s newsletter to get semi-regular updates and notifications when new content is published
  5. If you would like to be a guest on The Yaminade, please get in touch!

 

Transcript of Episode 4 of The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stefani: Exactly.

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

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

Paul: Good problem to have!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: Tom Peters’ “managing by walking around”

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

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

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

Paul: Excellent. Move on…

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

Paul: Traditional?

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: What were they using it for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: [groans] No, no!

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

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

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

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

Stefani: Yep, five months!

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

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

Paul: [yawns]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stefani: I’ve loved it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stefani: I know, I’m like “how do I end this?”
In this short introductory podcast episode I share with you my thinking behind starting a podcast focused on Yammer and in particular community management on an enterprise social networking tool like Yammer.

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

Resources mentioned in the show:

Transcript of this episode of The Yaminade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you very much and enjoy the show.

 

Introducing The Yaminade

Yaminade noun.

  1. The stuff you need to know if you are launching, sick managing or participating in a Yammer Network
  2. Content that goes deeper to give you context and understanding, viagra dosage not just tactics
  3. An online resource that combines articles published online
  4. A podcast where you can hear from people just like you – and learn from the success (and mistakes) of other Yammer Community Managers
  5. A combination of the words Yammer, and Kool-aid or Lemonade.  A tasty drink enjoyed by many online

—–

Hi there.  My name is Paul Woods.  First of all, thank you for taking the time to visit The Yaminade.  The goal of The Yaminade is to build an online resource which helps the many people out there tasked with understanding, launching, managing, curating, controlling, or simply participating in their organisations Yammer network.

Maybe you have been using Yammer for years.  Maybe you don’t even know what it is – and are confused by an Enterprise would want to participate in Enterprise Social Networking?  Wherever you are on the spectrum, the idea of The Yaminade is:

  • to share the success of people just like you around the world
  • enable us to learn from the mistakes / successes of others
  • understand what works well in some industries and in some roles, that doesn’t work in others
  • to provide you and your team guidance to increase the success of your Yammer network through more and deeper engagement with your workforce.

So.  I can hear you asking… “Paul… Why should I listen to you?”

Well, I am not claiming to be the world’s leading Yammer or Enterprise Social expert.  But I do work with many organisations to help them navigate the challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities their Yammer network provides.  My background is in marketing communications – I have been responsible for supporting internal communication in listed companies – a similar role that many of you will hold today.

Beyond having a great interest in the field, I have been trained directly by Yammer’s Customer Success team… and hold the Yammer Power User, Yammer Administrator, and Yammer Community Manager certifications.

But enough about me.  This is really about us.  If any of you have tried to find information to start your Yammer journey chances are you were left scratching your head.  Beyond the (REALLY GOOD) resources available at success.yammer.com, or some water cooler conversations in the Yammer Customer Network… there are not very many places you can go to get context and understanding as to how best launch or manage your network.  There are plenty of step by step instructions, but they are generic and to be honest your mileage will vary depending on the organisation you apply them to.

The goal here to to go deeper.  Beyond the step by step instructions, and provide the real stories, where real people just like you have done exactly what you are trying to achieve.  Hopefully by bringing their stories together you can improve the performance of your business, government agency, not-for-profit, or organisation… and help empower people to work like a network.

So there you have it…. my simple manifesto for “The Yaminade”.  Deeper, more valuable content to help you get to grips with your Yammer network.  Thanks again for visiting…  I can’t wait to work with you and hear about your success in the future!

 

Cheers,

Paul Woods
Brisbane, Australia