Yammer and LinkedIn

Yammer and LinkedIn

I’m sure Microsoft brought LinkedIn with a specific purpose in mind although it wouldn’t be the first time they know something is good, buy it and they figure out what to do with it!

It sometimes reminds me of some of the mega-rich English Premier League clubs who buy in talent that have very little to do with the current style of play, sit them on the bench and wait for a situation to arise when it becomes clear why they brought them in the first place – or just serendipity!

I would like to think that Microsoft see the future value of collaboration around new ways of working is not to just support the current hierarchies and structures of an organisation. In essence that’s what most of O365 does in supporting this structure of group working around file uploads, storage, document production etc. All important stuff but does nothing to drive innovation and new wealth / value creation.

Where the value creation comes is from building networks, relationships and communities, nurturing new behaviours and processes and blending diversity to create new ways of working.

Yammer and Delve begin to achieve this inside the organisation and adding something like LinkedIn gives an organisation the opportunity to source content, connections and resources far beyond their current network.

I’m thinking of an example where a project manager can initiate a new project and Yammer / Delve (whatever these channels would be called in the future) to source ideas, content, connections and resources from within the organisation and then get seamless connectivity to a LinkedIn type resource (professional and educational) to source gaps or enhancements to the knowledge they have within the organisation. It changes not just the potential reach but also the relationships organisations have with professionals. It would also increase the diversity of thought that an organisational begins to call upon, ideally making it far more social, transparent, agile and democratic.


Still a future for Yammer despite Skype Teams

Still a future for Yammer despite Skype Teams

Microsoft are now looking to compete with Slack.


In the article it mentions how they fail to see what the future of Yammer would be and they struggle to see where it fits in. In my eyes they have completely different capabilities.

Yammer is about networking, relationship and community building. It enables discovery, innovation, crowdsourcing and engagement that potentially involves hundreds and thousands of colleagues.

You would struggle to do that with Slack or Skype teams. The key word here is teams. Skype Teams would work well with defined, identifiable colleagues – in essence building around existing hierarchy and structures.

With Yammer you discover and network with people and groups you never knew existed before, creating new ways of working through the diversity that can be attracted through discover.

It’s more than the ‘like’

Colleagues that are thinking of how to strategically deploy Yammer are starting to ask questions around metric packages that will provide some of the traditional measurements around online sites.

In terms of ‘measurement’ here are some of the basic criteria you could use to benchmark participation and activity within the communities based on attraction, attention and adoption:

  • Total number of users
  • Number of new users per week
  • Number of new posts, threads (plus response), ideas, blog and other content
  • What are members doing in the community?
  • What are the popular trends in posts?
  • What resources are being used?

We still see the benchmark of activity as something which should be measured. But the value of the activity is something which stakeholders rarely ask for.

As a Yammer network matures leadership begin to realise how it can be used strategically and the ‘ask’ for measurement begins to look at the value of the relationships and communities that are being developed. Generally, they would look for articulation around:

  • Social Knowledge – this can be defined in many ways such as assets being shared around a community (and beyond) and related practices emerge.
  • Relationship development – the ability to create new relationships and networks that previously didn’t exists
  • What collaborative activities are emerging?
  • What threads, replies, comments or connections contain referrers to potential collaborators
  • What threads contain creative or innovative ideas
  • Are members sharing personal stories and how much emotional support is provided

Some of the questions I ask to evaluate these items would include:

  • % of members / users which make a contribution
  • Members active within the past 30 days
  • Contributions per active member and the value of these contributions related to the purpose of the community
  • Content popularity
  • Number of relationships created by individuals – look at followers and participation in threads
  • Discovery of communities – have members joined communities outside their ‘physical’ or existing network

The default Yammer analytics will not provide this type of information and much of it will be antidotal evidence. Social analytics are poor within most social tools (it will be a major revenue stream for a vendor that can start to provide some of the softer metrics that articulate quality and not just quantity).

To measure the value of the relationships and transparency created by the individuals, groups and communities residing on Yammer we still need to conduct a lot of manual digging to find measurement around such artefacts as:

Over the years of working within companies here is my list of useful metrics from ‘mature’ Yammer networks that have developed from basic ‘microblogging platforms to integrated work process and social business / learning platforms (the need for ‘measurement’ moves from attraction to outputs from relationships).

You may not think these type of metrics will be useful now but fast forward 18-24 months and these will be the type of measurement leadership will be asking for:

  • What % of newcomers remain members for more than a month
  • Speed of replies to discussions. How quickly are discussions receiving a reply? The faster the responses, the higher the level of social presence within the community and the greater the level of participation
  • The % of newcomers which initiate a discussion. This highlights whether newcomers may be unmotivated or intimidated to start discussions
  • Do members’ interactions have continuity and depth. (Are members engaged in productive, on-going, interactions?)
  • What collaborative activities are emerging?
  • What documents, tools, resources, or other artefacts are created and utilized. (How are these useful to the members?)
  • Is the community providing value for its sponsors?
  • Is participants’ involvement in the community affecting their professional practices and learning
  • What are the on-going practices and processes that contribute to the “life” of the community and keep members engaged?
  • How is knowledge being shared within the community? Beyond the community?
  • Are leaders or roles emerging in the community? In what ways? How are they being cultivated?
  • How are members being supported in the community?
  • How are members contributing? Posting? Replying? (When? How often?)
  • What are the prevalent patterns of interactions?
  • What is the proportion of new topics that get 5+ replies? The percentage of new blogs at get 5+ comments? The percentage of (video, audio, lesson plan, etc.) uploads that get 50+ downloads or 5+ comments?
  • What proportions of new topics or new blog posts are un-responded to or uncommented on (an important measure of the responsiveness of the community, which in turn affects key factors like trust)?
  • What is the average new (topics, replies, blog posts) created per member?
  • What are the emerging benefits of the community for members?
  • What is the average number of “followers” that community members list or have collected in/on their member profile pages?
  • What are the proportion of topics or replies that specifically relate to the practice?
  • The proportion of replies where links to potentially helpful resources or other referrals are provided
  • The proportion of replies to a post in which helpful or constructive advice is directly provided
  • The proportion of replies that build on previous posts (as opposed to just responding to the original poster)
  • The proportion of replies that contain offers of collaboration or introductions to potential collaborators
  • The proportion of replies that contain creative, novel, or innovative ideas
  • The proportions of replies that summarize, distil, or synthesize prior posts/replies
  • The proportion of posts in which community members show or express vulnerability, such as a lack of domain knowledge
  • The proportion of posts in which community members share personal stories
  • The proportion of posts in which community members are (emotionally) supportive or helpful to other members

Finding the right trigger for success

Finding the right trigger for success

I’ve just been reading some conversations in one of the Linkedin Change Management groups I belong to. The conversation is around why organisations are still struggling to get Yammer adopted.

It still amazes me that in 2016 many organisations are struggling to get value from social software despite a reliable ‘recipe’ now being known.

All consultancies both large and small have a framework which is pitched to potential clients that will deliver various degrees of success – but success nevertheless.

Any programme / project manager with an element of common sense could also scan the internet and get a reliable formula to get those engagement / value rates above 55-60% (70% looks to be the saturation point) rather than languishing in the 20%.

Many of the previous comments have articulated the recipe for success, or lack of it, such as…  ‘not aligning to business strategy, little governance, poor planning, wrong use cases at the wrong time, treating change like a IT change programme rather than behavioural change etc. etc. etc.

A couple of areas I would raise which compounds the agony of low adoption / value:

Few of the owners of these platforms appear to be appraised on garnering value. As long as it ‘works’ from a technical perspective the responsibility appears to stop there.

Also too many project managers run traditional change programmes which deliver the rational reason to use the platform, tell them what to do, the how and why. Few look to go further and try to deliver the emotional reasons, activate leaders, shift mind-sets and behaviours or align the formal organisation. And very, very few actually work on finding the ‘triggers’ that will give people the motivation to change.

However, I know Microsoft (and others) are realising that they need to ‘raise their gam’ in terms of preaching ‘change management’ as a key element of garnering business value. Also how that change management is delivered (more open, transparent, inclusive, cross boundary etc.) is also something that needs to be promoted further.


However, I know Microsoft (and others) are realising that they need to ‘raise their gam’ in terms of preaching ‘change management’ as a key element of garnering business value. Also how that change management is delivered (more open, transparent, inclusive, cross boundary etc.) is also something that needs to be promoted further.


Becoming a social leader

Becoming a social leader

Trying to get leaders to understand the potential and value of creating an open and collaborative business can sometimes be a hard sell. One of the key milestones is to get them embracing and supporting the deployment of tools and associated behavioural change required to utilise the investment.

Key elements when approaching leaders should include:

  • Explain the key elements of open / social working
    • Outline the need to appeal to individual’s ‘intrinsic motivators’
    • Provide practical examples of individuals becoming more effective and engaged
    • Guide them on how to develop and spread the habit via doing
    • Explain how they would “contribute to people in their organisations to deepen the relationship”?And also why should they?
    • Don’t replicate a process. It has to replace it or be something new.

Using the ‘seeing is believing’ mantra here are some tips to get your leader involved. O365 is used in this examples but this would apply to most collaboration and open business technologies.

1- Explain to them the overall benefits, ideally linking to the overall strategy. Normally the benefits would include:

o Enables ‘new ways of working’ by providing:
 Access everywhere, anytime
 Transparent and open working
o Builds a connected organisation enhancing business agility
o Increases employee engagement
o Improves team collaboration
o Enables external collaborative working

2- Set out the benefits for the leader (try to understand what would be key motivations prior to the session). These could be:

• Build a personal brand across the organisation
• Network across silos
• Increase engagements and receive feedback
• Access and share documents easier
• Network / collaborate externally
• Manage meetings and reporting more effectively
• Build a connected organisation by increasing participation in Townhall events

3 – Getting the leaders started

• Update their Profile with skills and experiences and explain the benefits.
• Profiles and reputations develop fast in the online world. Yammer offers Leaders new ways to promote their views and skills
• Leaders will emerge that may otherwise have been hidden in dark corners
• Yammer gives everyone the chance to share their views in an open forum
• Contributions are a lot more transparent and the Personal Brands Leaders create allow leadership potential to be spotted
• Smart Leaders and Talent teams embrace this opportunity.

4 – Spend 5 minutes building or expanding their network on Yammer

• Guide them on how to ‘follow’ people and join ‘groups’.
• Ask them to pick a few key words around topics which reflect their role and aspirations within the company (don’t just follow the people you already know) and use the ‘search’ option to explore what people and groups have similar interests.
• Begin following and see the value it may begin to bring.
• Don’t suggest they select hundreds or they will be ‘drowned in the noise’.

5 – Explain the power of ‘liking posts’

• Leaders should be taught the power of liking posts.
• A ‘like’ from a Leader has a big impact and is a good way to drive colleague engagement and motivate action all in one second.
• Encourage Leaders to use the ‘like’ option but also to be aware of the impact that ‘like’ can have if it’s not actually genuine.
• Before they know it a whole new process could be accidentally developed.

6 – Get them to join conversations and ask them to assess what benefit this has brought them over a period of a few weeks.

• Leaders’ reactions to posts shape how people perceive them as leaders
• What’s key is to teach Leaders how to handle conversation well and to do so publicly
• Over zealous comments or poor ends up sending a much louder message than simply responding in a well thought through manner

7- More things to remember

• At the outset it’s too easy for leaders to say it’s not for me. You want colleagues to make an informed choice knowing what is on offer before they decide not to use it, not to decide against it because it’s a big unknown quantity.
• If they are resistance or believe they need ‘training’ before they use it then offer them this through beginners coaching sessions
• It’s a self-updating skill set once they are on the bandwagon but at the start you don’t want to leave good talent behind. Everyone should be given equal opportunity to shine.

8 – Next steps

Once they are confident and comfortable with this way of open working then get them to expand. The next steps will be:

• Running a crowdsourcing session ‘ Yamjam to increase participation and innovation
• Hold ‘Town Hall’ events to increase engagement
• Sharing a vision for a better future and they ask their people to co-create this together in open innovation forums.
• Get them to ask colleagues to combine our strengths and spend more time collaborating around that which we wished to accomplish, rather than that which we wished to avoid, what’s possible?
• They co-design what is next.

Given the unheard a voice

Given the unheard a voice
One of our manager groups on Yammer is thriving. Recently launched, with a little stage management, the number of contributions has been higher than expected and, of more interest, is the value of the conversations and connections being made.

The group has a visible leader (important for user faith and compliance issues) and leadership support. The group was launched to support a physical event and early contributions were used to deal with issues leading up to the physical event (call for table leaders, logistic information etc).

However, it has branched out and we now find it is being used by managers outside London to showcase their knowledge and skills – in a very London centric community. It has given them a true voice to be heard. Some habits are still hard to break. The ‘leader’ is still being emailed and asked to post contributions while one office held a meeting to discuss what they wanted posted on the site, and then who should post the contribution.

At the launch there was no mention of technology and introduced as a tool to address an identifiable need – the ability to support a physical event.

It’s more than just the coaching

At my current client we are running a series of ‘beginners guide’ coaching sessions for those that are new to business networking platforms.

We run through the basic concept of using a networking site, the importance of your profiles, how to use the network to get value by following people and groups, etc.

Most platform vendors will claim that little training or coaching is needed as their respective tools are intuitive. But not everyone is on a social network in their personal life and I find some coaching is needed to ensure ‘no one gets left behind’. It’s a common approach, particular from IT departments that run these projects.

But the challenge does not end there. Just because someone now knows how to do something doesn’t automatically mean they will begin using it.

We mustn’t confuse ways of imparting knowledge with ways of changing behaviour. To encourage a behaviour we need to generate the best conditions for it to arise and then reinforce it. Merely knowing what you should do is often insufficient to reliably bring the behaviour about and merely knowing doesn’t offer much in the way of reinforcement.

So to support the behavioural change we are also coaching how colleagues can
develop highly engaged communities through some hints and tips around building habit formation as a step to changing behaviour online – some steps you can take to ensure your colleagues begin to regularly participate on the business networking platform.

Coaching participants on how something works is fine but the value comes from coaching on how to develop habits to utilise the capabilities of the network on a regular basis.