February 28, 2012 by James Smith
One of the most difficult challenges companies face today is how to promote and encourage knowledge sharing amongst its workforce. Well, for WCC this has certainly not been a cause for concern. The Yammer site has been the focal point in which the Google pilot users (virtual community) and other members of WCC have been able to post any questions relating to the Google Apps product.
Bearing in mind that, the Google virtual community are demographically located across Warwickshire and not conveniently located in a single location on hand to run over to a user’s desk and provide a helping hand in person has not dampened the interaction to share information. As it transpires, Yammer has provided a relaxed and informal approach to allow every user (including members of staff not on the pilot) to exchange information at the same time, which has become better, and more consistent in forging a stronger sharing community. In fact, there has been a significant upsurge of user engagement since the Yammer site was set-up, which has continuously evolved as more users have joined the pilot.
Yammer is an ideal communication channel, but our biggest success is that, by offering and providing the right platform, then responses can literally be answered in just a few moments.
I admit, I’ve been collating the responses and at the same time, learning as I’ve been going along. Without a doubt, there is value in the outstanding volume of users that spend time maintaining and responding to this ‘fountain of knowledge’. It is important, though, to highlight the fact that, without the continuous support of the Google virtual community this type of communication style to engage and interact quickly and easy would not have been possible.
For the past 4-months, this interactive tool has provided the opportunity for users to share ideas, tips, questions and ultimately, the answers within a virtual community environment. The discussions have focused on promoting an awareness and understanding of the new product. By introducing a common way in which to capture and share information has capitalised on the opportunity to engage everyone. The freedom to tap in to and unleash the creative minds in the business has enabled the community to learn / promote a new way of working. In fact, the Yammer site has led the way in establishing an accepted method of communicating with users on a regular basis and thus, enabling this group of 180 members to have a simple goal – sharing their expertise, and continuously learning from each other.
Surprisingly in the short time that Yammer has been running alongside the Google project, there have been almost 500 messages generated on the Yammer site. The beauty is that answers can come from anyone, anytime, and anywhere. These answers can come in different shapes and sizes and as such, they can have a different approach and yet still end up with the same solution. If a suggestion put forward does not work for a user then there is a community spirit to rally round and provide some other alternatives.
Interestingly, there has been some good topics raised, which we have converted into FAQs demonstrating that Yammer has facilitated users to develop an actual live and on-going learning tool. Every time a user visits the site, there’s a chance to offer them the opportunity to learn something new! Wouldn’t you like to receive your share? I know I would.
Dr Rosemary Caesar, Google Project Officer
Rosemary Caesar (aka Rosey) has over 10 years’ experience of working on internal consultancy projects. She has experienced the trials and tribulations of large-scale organisational change first hand through her work with organisations in the UK and Europe. Her assignments have focused on cultural, development and behavioural needs within businesses, improving internal communication, stakeholders’ engagement study, and introducing a competency framework to name just a few.
Rosemary’s specialist background is in organisation development (OD). It is through her passion and desire to understand how organisations operate within their internal boundaries that she undertook and completed a Doctoral research on the impact corporate storytelling has on a business.
Rosemary has been dubbed the ‘story-catcher’ by many of her friends and colleagues because of her fascination in to narratives. At the same time, she also enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. Any questions you have on corporate storytelling, she’s the person to ask.