Facebook at Work or O365

Facebook at Work or O365

Anyone who is involved in discussions with colleagues over Facebook at Work (I imagine many of you are the same ones that deal with the Slack discussions) here is an informative article around progress on the product.


I echo the authors comments around building relationships and community as a driving force for new ways of and Facebook at Work does have nice features.

However, no communities or relationships within an organisation sit in isolation from the way work gets done or linked to its strategy, processes, workflows, campaigns or initiatives. You could spend time integrating Facebook at Work with search but eventually you will need to leave Facebook at Work to deal with the outcomes of the communities and relationships.

The benefit of O365 is the increasingly ‘seamless integration’ with other capabilities that may be needed as a result of the community outcomes. For example, files uploaded on Yammer will be hosted on SharePoint. Conversation on Yammer could bleed into a Skype Teams call. Videos displayed on Yammer will play through Stream. There is linkage to Office apps, O365 Groups etc. All activity will be understood and surfaced via Delve. The need to leave O365 becomes increasingly unlikely within the collaborative process.

The compelling narrative behind O365 will be the seamless integration with the way people collaborate, not just building community and relationships, but in group work, file sharing, communicating and other collaborative activities.

One things I strongly agree with thought is “It’s not the tool but the people and programming that make enterprise social a success.”

My bias comes from a people centric perspective (rather than document or process centric) so I’ll be interested to hear other folks opinions, especially if you have been involved in a Facebook at Work trial.


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.

Stewardship of the Enterprise

At a session today with a company to talk about the tasks around Enterprise Community Management (ECM) – the initial stewardship required to develop a Yammer network.

The tasks can vary dependent upon your Yammer strategy (every company should ideally have a Yammer strategy closely linked to the overall business strategy (and related KM, New Business, People, L&D, Engagement strategies etc.) which will help define the priorities around the ECM tasks.

Other companies Yammer strategies have included:

  • Help change a ‘command / control’ company culture
  • Remove middle management roadblocks
  • Develop untapped future talent
  • Remove remote team’s reliance on reporting into the centre
  • Support development of a social learning programme

And the ECM tasks can vary greatly to help meet the strategic requirements.

Here is an outline of some of the tasks we will run through.

  • Help sections – maintain and update ‘Getting Started’ and Help areas on the network
  • Use Cases – assisting to develop use cases to show case the possibilities of Yammer
  • Stewardship – making sure everybody plays nice and all voices are heard
  • Formal Governance? – some companies need this so generally you’ll be involved in coordinating
  • Promotions – active in promoting Yammer through numerous channels
  • New Joiners – getting Yammer on various New Joiners radar
  • Coaching – determine how this is dealt with. Some formal ‘how to’ or focus on behavioural change and community management (my preferences are the last 2)
  • Events – running events around Yammer (Yamjams, 30 days of Yammer etc)
  • Advocates – nurturing advocates of the network
  • Strategic Initiatives – involved in any planning around big initiatives
  • VIP’s – Not everyone gets the same treatment so if someone ‘special’ joins Yammer give them the ‘silver service’ treatment
  • Community Management – developing good community management practices. Linked to coaching
  • Case Studies – Pulling together case studies to show the value it delivers. Good storytelling works wonders
  • ROI / Metrics – Pulling these together. Linkage to overall governance

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.


Engagement is ‘nice’ but democracy provides the value

Engagement is ‘nice’ but democracy provides the value

I sense we are still in the early stages of how ‘social ways of working’ can create value. Communications, engagement and knowledge sharing are early ‘adopters’ of ‘social’ but the internal audience’s affection with tools may eventually fade and move on to alternative channels. The real value from these ‘social’ tools comes when we explore how to utilise them for innovation, crowdsourcing, validation and creating more open, transparent and democratic structures within organisations.

By using collaboration and open business tools like Jive and O365 (Yammer) the chance to develop new ways of working is immense. Rapid validation of innovation and and organisational structures are enticing but the opportunity to bring democratic approaches into areas such as product development, strategy and governance can truly change the way colleagues, suppliers, customers and leaders can develop organisations for the future rather than bleak rigid corporations built on ‘war-like’ structures and sound bites.

The sound of social

The sound of social

Summer is upon us and I’ve been spending time reading through some of my notes of the various interviews I have conducted over the last 12 months in relation to collaboration tools and enterprise social networks.

I have interviewed over 250 ‘non-IT’ business users / advocates / leaders / stakeholders that have been introduced to new or upgraded collaboration platforms (O365, Jive, Chatter, Fuse, Yammer – the platform doesn’t really matter in relation to this article) and have found many of the comments follow a familiar pattern on the main issues which I believe companies still face in making a success of collaborative tools.

I should stress the issues may not be with the technology but a company’s ability to provide the appropriate implementation and change management support to assist participants in the adoption and utilisation of these tools.

I loved the work of Studs Terkel (just let the interviewee tell the story and don’t try to over complicate the message) so in the style of his oral histories here is the current story of 2015 directly from the mouth of a few participants faced with new technologies:

Making users feel safe

 “People wouldn’t have felt safe putting certain information on the site. Few understood the privacy settings and people are generally worried who can see what within the company. Leadership need to support and validate it before it gets used.”

“There is a hierarchy within the company and people generally would not follow or respond to comments by someone who is senior. It may be shyness or maybe culturally the way we have done things but we have to face this fact.”

“The most obvious element that is missing is the ability to make people feel safe. Networking with people in this company means putting your head above the water margin. It’s not something we do and we need a heavy support programme to show us how it’s done.”

Integrate into how people work

 The problem is that this isn’t “how we work” currently, it isn’t natural for people to use the tool and so the potential couldn’t be realized in this short time period. I think that if everyone was signed into the tool and they were encouraged to use it, it would be incredibly valuable.”

“I found the tool somewhat complicated if I’m being totally honest. Not being immediately able to find what I wanted or know how to do something made me slightly reluctant to use the tool regularly and left me frustrated.”

“It does feel a little bit like you are bombarded with reminders that someone has posted.”

“I did feel that some of the posts from individuals were not entirely appropriate for a company website and were more suited to Facebook. For example when someone is having a bad day and venting via their updates. I personally feel this is not something that you necessarily should be sharing with work colleagues and is best saved for a private social media page.”

This tool will be useful only if it replaces other tools. We get too much information and there’s not enough time in the day to process it all.

“Just more clutter which distracts me from my busy day.”

“During busy periods when colleagues are required to pull together and resolve issues against a deadline, I do not appreciate updates and activity streams bombarding my screen – which does not directly help with the matter in hand. Filter failure or not it is distracting.”

“The mobile app is just a tool for viewing the chit chat or direct messages so its functions are useless for me.”

“Unfortunately for me personally this is just another tool in an already overcrowded environment.”

 Governance and linkage with other channels

“If corporate messages were put on the collaboration platform it may devalue the message. People see the intranet as the official source of information.”

“Go where the people want to go. Don’t force people to choose between one and another. Intranet and ‘social’ need to be integrated.”

“I believe a ‘technology first’ approach has been taken by the tool. There has been poor implementation and communication planning. I just don’t know what to do with it.”

” The intranet is the backbone of the organisation structure. The social channel is the living parts of the organisation. Like skeleton and flesh. We need integration but not replacement. We also have other communication channels. I need easy to follow and seamless integration of content across the platforms.”

“It lacks the credibility of an official channel like the intranet.”

“We need to build trust on the channel. Some people trust it, others don’t.”

“On the platform everyone is an amateur. The intranet site is professional. If the social channel had more professional news and articles it may add more value.”

“There is concern over governance – my department on the social site has a page with outdated documents and people are discussing content within the document. I spoke to the intranet team and they didn’t have time to deal with content on the social platform as its run by a different team.”

“If management make an announcement and it is not on the intranet people may have issues. The expectation is it should be on there and not a social platform. It just doesn’t have that credibility.”

“I’ve not been on the social tool much. I wasted time looking at groups and communities of no relevance. It needs more governance. Too many groups now have details out of date – it’s getting worse than the intranet.”

“I’m frustrated by governance, or a lack of it. Imagery doesn’t look like the official brand. Too many sites are being setup and it’s becoming a mess.”

“I’m now seeing duplication with the intranet.”

“It’s not an official channel and it’s painful to find information.”

 Lessons learnt

 There are simply lessons that companies still fail to understand. To make these platforms a success you need to:

  • Have a strategy (business, content and knowledge)
  • Understand how the platform needs to integrate with intranet, document management, metadata, enterprise search and other channels
  • You need to do the ground work of business analysis, use cases and understand how people work. Ensure you understand what success is – and it can’t just be adoption.
  • Start small with good use cases that provide quick wins and have a supported phased approach to implementation. Volume brings value.
  • Provide the physical support – community management, advocacy, coaching and leadership support.

In essence enable the organisation, enable the technology and most importantly enable the people.