Yammer is booming, especially in the Nederland within Europe. Many companies have started their Yammer groups for rapid internal exchange. If you don't know Yammer: Yammer is kind of Twitter (micro-blogging) service which can be used within organisation, so it is not public like on Twitter. The messages can be slightly longer than on Twitter and it is easier to reply (looks a lot like Facebook). Someone from KLM told me for instance he was looking for someone who could explain their wiki system to him. He put out a message on Yammer and found someone who could sit with him and explain it, the very next day. Without Yammer it would have been difficult to find this person.
Yammer on tour started with great online ramp up
Last thursday Yammer organised the Yamtour. It was very well facilitated beforehand using a -you can predict - a Yammer network. People were invited to introduce themselves, everybody got a nice reply or welcome. People were asked to come forward with topics for the unconference part, and had to think of people they would certainly like to meet. For me it worked in order to meet Emile (whom I interviewed, see the video below). There was a bit of a 'selling' atmosphere in the first presentations like focussing on the ROI van Yammer and other figures to convince people of the value of Yammer. 38% of our time we spend looking for information and Yammer can reduce that time span. I thought it was a missed chance not to link and refer more to the real question that came up through the Yammer group beforehand. But nice to see the examples of various uses of Yammer and how it has opened up knowledge in organisations and made it accessible, through the use of a social approach.
Social online learning = not facilitated?
Most people I met had the idea that you deploy Yammer, invite people and the rest should be a spontaneous proces. I talked to a member of an IT - company where it had actually worked like this.Someone spontaneously took the initiative to start a Yammer group (a free account). He invited employees from the company and within a few months 80% of the employees was on Yammer. This person explained that it is an IT company and that employees are relatively young. I also meet many organizations where it is set up spontaneously by someone and then it remains a small group of employees who sign up, or people sign up, but very little sharing is going on. I believe in supporting and facilitating the process of adoption. I'm also convinced from a knowledge management/organisational learning prespective you can influence the direction of the conversations that you would like to see on Yammer. Many people I spoke to are worried that facilitation means you are taking the spontaneity away but you can also facilitate and stimulate without imposing conversation topics and rules.
Examples of using Yammer for closing the gap between senior management and the workfloor
I enjoyed the examples of Rijkswaterstaat, Capgemini and Mobile BI. Tim de Waard of Rijkswaterstaat said that they regularly organize Yamjam brainstorming sessions on specific topics. The board of directors was coached to participate during a hands-on laptop session. After the Yamjam, they also wanted Yammer on their Blackberries, because it had given them a good insight into the various complaints and grudges within the company and it gave them the ability to respond to employees. Tim told us he himself currently has a better understanding what the board of directors is doing, before the Yamjams he really had no idea. At Rijkswaterstaat there is a community manager. He ensures that new people join a group called 'new to Yammer' and helps them develop their personalized feeds and filters. He also welcomes new members and organizes Yamjams.
Capgemini has used Yammer in an interesting way for organizational change. Each year the senior management gets together for a three-days retreat, this time the retreat was planned in Barcelona. They used Yammer to engage a large group of people in the conversations. During the 3 days of the retreat 8000 people have joined Yammer. Presentations were shared in real time, and feedback was collected. This gave senior management a much better understanding of:
- who the thought leaders are
- major concerns of employees
- what excites people
Finally they spoke about the way to demonstrate actual value created. They recommend to collect cases, every discussion, every question on Yammer may be a case. One tip is to choose a hashtag (# benefit) for conversations that helped people. In one organisation over 1500 cases were collected in this way, that show the variety of ways in which Yammer has helped employees do their jobs. Unfortunately there was no discussion of the advantage of use Yammer above for instance open social media like Twitter.
Practical example of Yammer in healthcare: replacing the client logfile
Afterwards I interviewed Emile de Roy van Zuydewijn from Thuiszorg Emile, about their use of Yammer to replace the client logbook in healthcare. In the Dutch video he explains how they are using Yammer to communicate about clients, using the clients' names as hashtags. There are also clients and other healthcare professionals who can join them in an external network. The advantage is that you can easily communicate with various involved parties. Furthermore, when the client is part of it, it is very transparent. Emile was the one who thought of it, set it up and introduced it. It wasn't hard to get the students to use it. It might be slightly more difficult though with older groups. He has chosen for Yammer because of the security (closed system), the ease of use and the fact that you can use it on many devices (like via apps).
What strikes me in this case is that there is a pioneer with a clear vision on what a tool can do for a group. You might call that the technology steward role.
Read Dutch? here's a blogpost by Eric van Oevelen from Avans Hogeschool who was there too. And here's the blogpost by Paul Voors from the NS.