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

Approaches aren’t mutually exclusive

Over the last few days I’ve looked at various approaches you can take to creating adoption of collaboration tools.

It’s important to remember that none are mutually exclusive.

Adoption by chance

  • You can run a standard approach believing you may be the exception.
  • Once you fail to gain adoption you can switch

Adoption by hierarchy

  • You can structure a formal approach but if roadblocks and delays are occurring (scheduling workshops, factfinding etc) then begin with a social approach for early quick wins

Adoption by ‘social’ (tribes and communities)

  • If your social approach spreads success quickly you may wish to consider how to align the organisation with a ‘mini formal approach’ to deal with leadership requests

And you can also try a concurrent approach

To maximise the chances of success you could run both a formal and social approach (bottom up and top down), ensuring awareness, sustainability and rapid quick wins

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

Adoption by tribes and the informal community

Having looked at adoption through chance and hierarchies the final approach is by ‘social’ adoption or adoption through the tribes, networks and communities that exist within an organisation but outside the formal hierarchies.

This generally involves engagement through informal structure of companies with adoption built around explicit use cases (not abstract but rapid, high volume explicit use cases) and supported by:

  • Deploy waves of rapid use cases
  • ‘Word of mouth’ through networks
  • Nudge channels
  • Informal advocates
  • Social learning


  • Rapid adoption and value gained through ‘real life’ use case development
  • Limited drain on time and resource
  • Rapid refinement of approach
  • Inclusive
  • Appeals to rational and emotional reasons for adoption
  • Potential for ‘wild fire spread’ is greater
  • Rapid advocate recruitment
  • Fast paced and sustained – leads to more and more use cases being developed
  • Appeal to ‘What’s in it for me’


  • Lack of detail and holistic knowledge of products and capabilities
  • Lack of process / rigidity
  • Possible limited knowledge transfer
  • Not everyone aligned
  • Limited leadership buy-in
  • Key areas may get missed
  • Reliant on skills of advocates
  • Aligned to user energy, not business value

Adoption by hierarchy

Following on from the ‘Adoption by Chance’ approach an alternative if the ‘Formal Approach’ or adoption through hierarchy (and highly recommended if you were even thinking of taking the ‘Adoption by Chance’ approach).

The formal approach is based on:

  • Engagement through leadership / key stakeholders
  • Implement a formal approach (defining and delivering) to educate on the collaboration technologies.
  • Refine approach and collateral as the programme develops

Adoption through hierarchy


  • Understanding of the ‘What, Why, How’ of the technology from a leadership perspective and ensuring they are fully aligned
  • Colleagues ‘on the same page’ and at the same stage of the journey
  • Knowledge of all available materials
  • Formal support process
  • Increased ability to maximize the applications available – larger number of use cases surfaced
  • Ability to get access and collaborate across all areas of the business
  • Comprehensive approach


  • Slow and time consuming – early motivators may lose interest
  • Pace set by leadership or project team – not the users
  • Too much detail – information presented won’t necessarily be applicable to all
  • Too rigid
  • Loss of interest increases and users drop interest of the ‘journey’
  • Rational approach but doesn’t appeal to emotional interest
  • Potential to be exclusive and siloed

Adoption by chance

Having looked at 3 very different approaches to adoption of collaborative technologies here is my take on the drawbacks and merits of each.

Today we start with the ‘throw it over the fence’ approach. I would suggest this is generally favoured by IT folk who need to ‘get it out there’ and their focus is not on sustained usage or business value.

Success is generally low and adoption is by chance

• Self-contained, no need to engage with other areas of the business prior to deployment
• Low cost – little resource required
• Enables rapid deployment
• Creates an enterprise-wide awareness (if communication channels are effective)
• Enables a swift campaign to be executed
• Meets immediate technology enablement requirements

• Awareness does not guarantee engagement with tools
• Little understanding of how they can be utilised
• Little control over how the business will use it
• Little adoption once early motivated adopters have been engaged
• Little adoption or engagement once campaign has finished
• Little sustaining or legacy behaviours in place
• All behavioural change is by chance or self-understanding

Adoption by Chance, Hierarchy or Community

Sticking with the ‘power of 3’ theme from a previous post (The Power of 3) here are the least / most effective approaches to adoption (habitual usage) and sustained business value from collaborative technologies.

1 – Throw it over the fence and let the business get on with it (Adoption by Chance).
– Provide access to the tools
– Provide access to training areas
– Develop communication / launch plan
– Create messages and deliver through formal channels
– Email alerts
– Portal / Intranet
– Traditional Change Agents
– Leave it to the business to ‘go figure’
Adoption success around 10-15%

2 – Common Formal Approach (Adoption through hierarchies)
Favoured by many of the consultancies involving engagement through leadership, implementing a formal approach around defining and delivering the programme which is refined, together with collateral that is recycled and enhanced as the programme develops. The formal approach includes elements such as:
• Developing the pitch
• Defining ‘What’s in it for me’? for business areas
• Technology Planning
• Engagement planning
• Adoption services
• Build and sustain
Adoption success around 45 – 60%

3 – Social Approach (Adoption through informal networks, tribes and communities)
This generally involves engagement through informal structure of companies with adoption built around explicit use cases (not abstract but rapid, high volume explicit use cases) and supported by:
• Deploy waves of rapid use cases
• ‘Word of mouth’ through networks
• Nudge channels
• Informal advocates
• Social learning
Adoption success around 55 – 70%