Executive blogging? Hmm…

NoBloggingBlogging by senior management appears to be an ongoing struggle. I wrote about it earlier and remarked that it is not for everyone.
In my opinion, key success factors are:

  • You need to like doing it. It will cost a lot of time and effort, and if you do not like to spend that on writing, you’d better use your time in another way.
  • You need to add something new to the mix, something your employees have not already heard several times through your official channels.

Last week, I came across two other articles about executive blogging.

Do not blog if you do not know where you are going

Erika Parker posted “Executive Blogs: 7 Signs You Should Just Say No “

She also mentions that executives have to feel a need to blog. There should be something driving them, whether that is their personal opinions, a need to interact with employees or a need to change behaviours. If they feel they do it because they have to, they better find another channel or another way altogether.
And while it is not necessarily wrong to hire a ghostwriter, an executive has to feed that person with the direction, the tone-of-voice,  personality and topics. They can not leave it all to the writer. But remember: they should always post their blog themselves!

Do not blog about knowledge management

And if this all does not show enough that blogging by executives is not necessarily a simple thing that you “just do”, Nick Milton posted: “Why you should not ask your senior managers to blog“.

That sounds more forbidding than it really is. Nick warns that senior management should not blog about knowledge management, at least not about anything other than stating its importance.
In general, a senior manager’s blog will be too formal (an official communication), too hierarchical and too conceptual to be of practical use. It is not a good example to start informal company-wide knowledge sharing between peers.

Nick gives a few better options for using blogging as a method of sharing knowledge among employees.
I strongly support that opinion, just like I support blogging instead of publishing monthly newsletters.

I am almost starting to feel sorry for all executives.
If they have the drive and enthusiasm (which appears not to happen too often), then they are forbidden to blog about a certain topic. If wonder if any executive still has any motivation left after all this. 🙂

Perhaps you know of a good example?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 things you want to know about Yammer external networks

YammerSome weeks ago I offered a project team to create a Yammer group. It was a team with a lot of externals, so it had to be an external group. Or so I thought.

However, it turned out I had to create a new “child” network off my company network, because external groups were not available at that time. They are now, but your administrator can turn this off, so a child network may still be the only option available to you.

This has been a great learning experience since a child network has some peculiarities: it is different from a group (obviously), and also different from the company network.

So of course I am logging all the interesting things that I find as the project develops; for myself, my colleagues and for anyone else who is involved with external Yammer networks.

For the administrator:

  1. The URL of your new network will be https://www.yammer.com/name  so you are competing with all the world. Your desired name may already been taken, so have a few alternatives ready.
  2. The person who creates the child network is automatically added as the (child) network administrator, with all the trimmings. If you do not like the idea that everyone in your organization can become a network administrator, you may want to limit the options to create child networks, and can decide to make this option available for the parent Yammer administrators only. (If you are a Yammer admin, go to Network Administration > External Networks)
  3. You need to invite everyone with their email address; you can not use the existing network to select from.
  4. Some companies do not allow their employees to join any external Yammer network, but need approval from their Yammer admin. This is a setting that lives in the same place as nr. 2.
  5. This is a separate network, not a group, so people can create groups under this network. You can not turn this off.
  6. The parent network has more administration settings and options than the child network. For instance, the “External Networks”, Ïnvite Guests” and “Account Activity”  options are not available in the child network.
ExternalNetworksAdmin
Part of the  parent network admin settings.

 

For the users of your network:

You may want to inform them about this in a quick user guide. I have logged them in a Yammer Note on the All Company network.

Network Note
Yammer notes are a good way to capture information for the group/network.

 

  1. The new network will not be visible under My Groups; instead you have to navigate networks via the gear wheel next to your profile pic (bottom left at the moment of writing).
  2. Since this is a separate network, you will have to refollow those people you want to follow.
  3. You will also have to re-set your email notifications for this network
  4. Make sure that you are on the correct page – you enter the default homepage but this is not the same as the All Company stream. (Which does not feel logical to me, but that can be me)

Have you found any other “gotcha’s” for Yammer external networks? Or have I got it wrong on some things? Please share!

Yammer Groups videos

YammerVideoI wish that Microsoft would create a Yammer training video whenever the interface changed. Yammer works exactly the same for all of us, so it would be nice if we all did not have to reinvent that wheel.

What differs between customers, apart from the masthead they use, is their reasons for using Yammer. This results in very interesting case-studies of the benefits Yammer can bring in that organization. I have already highlighted a few in my earlier post, and I will continue to add those to my collection.

But there are different themes for Yammer videos than demo’s or teasers.

This hilarious video from Virgin Trains tries to stimulate the use of Yammer Groups as opposed to the All Company Network.

By the way, their Yammer launch video (and the case study: getting an alpaca out of the train) is also worth watching!

And this set of 3 videos are about Community Management. They compare a Yammer Group to a party, with guidelines to match. I love the analogy, I love the characters, I love the warning at the beginning, and I want that Bat-device! 🙂

Part 1: Starting Out

 

Part 2: Managing and Maintaining

 

Part 3: Promoting and Expanding

Although the look-and-feel may not be suitable for use in every organization, the recommendations at the end of every video are solid and helpful for all of us who have a role in managing communities on Yammer (or other enterprise social networks, of course).

It’s discovering videos like these that make collecting intranet videos so much fun!

By the way, you can filter on “Yammer”  in my collection to see all Yammer-related videos. And as always, please let me know if you know any good additions!

Yammer promotion videos

YammerVideoMy latest post triggered the question:
“Do organizations create separate promotion or instruction videos for their Yammer rollout?”

Yes, they do.

So…they are now in my collection, tagged with Yammer.

I have found many that just demonstrate the standard functionalities. I think that is a waste of effort, since there are plenty of tutorial materials around.
Therefore I have focused on videos that are specific to an organization, that  demonstrate how you can use Yammer within your team, with your specific issues. Those add real value, because demonstrating a case that people can relate to, is a good way to make people understand the benefits of Yammer.

These are my favourites:

Qantas

This is more like a teaser, informing catering employees how to use a specific Yammer group to collaborate with internal and external partners.

Friesland Campina

This one has some very company-specific “dairy ingredients”, but is suitable as a starting point for  many large multinational organizations.

VerizonWireless

Tongue-in-cheek animation about project management in Yammer and the power of Yammer topics. I must admit that I was not aware of all functionalities of Yammer topics so I learned something new!

I am sure I will be adding to my collection over time. And as always, if you know another promotion video for my collection, please share the link!

Creating an adoption plan with the Office365 Customer Success Center

O365successAt the Office 365 summit  I learned about the Office365 Success Center. This contains tons of resources and planning tools to get your Office365 launch and adoption planned. I was quite happy about that because it means all those Microsoft/Office365 customers no longer have to reinvent all wheels themselves. (You know I hate that)

A Yammer implementation (Work like a network)
I recently had the opportunity to do a Yammer implementation for a specific team so I was eager to test-drive the tool and share my experiences.

0. Access and sign-in.
Go to https://success.office.com/en-us and go to Adoption > Adoption Plan. My default Dutch version does not have the Adoption Plan options, so please add “en-us” to the URL.

How to create and access your plan.
How to create and access your plan.

After signing in, click on Create New, add title and description, and after saving the following screen is shown. (All progress bars are grey if you start)
You can see different steps with their progress. You set the progress yourself using the Save (in progress – blue) or Finish (finished – green buttons below every topic.
You open or close the item with the icon on the right of the section.
As you go along, you will also see many document-based templates on the left-hand side of the page, such as tips or templates for posters/flyers. This blog focuses on the online plan.

Progress Overviw
Progress Overview. You start with only grey boxes and you set the progress yourself.


1. Stakeholders.

You can select which roles are involved and add their names. You can also remove all roles not needed. In this case, we only had a few roles, but it was a useful exercise to note the names and responsibilities for everyone in the project team.

Adding names to roles
Adding the names to the roles.

2. Vision
The tool tells you to use ”1-4 sentences” but it is unclear exactly how many characters you can use. There is no warning when you exceed the character limit. In that case your data is simply not saved, or an older shorter version is saved.

Vision statement
Enter the Vision statement


Suggested improvements:

  • Add information about the # of characters allowed for the Vision. Show a warning when you are using more.
  • Make the Vision statement more useful, by e.g. prompting to check or revise the vision during creation of your plan.  I understand that a tool like this can not tell you that “this action or metric is not in line with your vision”, but I would like to be prompted to review the vision or to check if your action plan will promote the vision.

3. Scenario
Next in line is the Scenario you are looking for. There are 5, and I chose “Work like a network”. You can then prioritize the scenarios, but we only had one so there was no need.

4. Success Metrics
Of course you have to measure if you are on plan.  You get 6 examples, but you can add, edit and delete according to your own plans.
The examples were very useful for the exact wording of our metrics, but the display is a little odd 🙂

Success Metric section
The Success Metrics section. Good content, but the display needs some work.


Suggested improvements:

  • In the plan, please improve the display of the texts – there is html in there (screenshot)
  • In the Snapshot, check display – many spaces between words are missing.

5. Activities
Selecting your Scenario filters the suggested Activities for your project. These contain a very complete overview of all possible actions during pre-launch, launch and post-launch, including a proposed timeline.
There were a few that we had not thought of and gladly included in our plan.  There were also a couple that were not relevant for us, so we removed those.

Activities
Activities, grouped by Pre-Launch, Launch and Post-Launch.


Suggested improvements:

  • Replicate the names of the Stakeholders automatically into the Owner fields.
  • Explain what the square box does. (highlighted)
  • Replace “Office365” by “Yammer” in the Activities texts if you select the “Work like a network” scenario.

6. Snapshot
You can save and download a Snapshot (in Word) of your adoption plan, with all information you entered as well as a lot of explanation, tips etc. This turned out to be many pages (25 in our case for just 1 scenario!), and it also does not sort as in the plan.
I had to rework it (mainly removing all content that was not added/modified by ourselves) to make it into a concise actionable sharable plan.

Snapshot in Word
The Snapshot is your total plan in a document


Suggested improvements:

  • Add an option to create one Snapshot per scenario. Success Metrics and Activities may be different for each scenario.
  • Remove the additional info from the Snapshot so you end up with a concise plan, preferably in Excel so it can be turned into a SharePoint Task List 🙂 
  • Make Snapshot available as PowerPoint and/or Sway  so it can instantly be presented and/or shared.
  • Check texts for consistency: e.g. the Stakeholders are called Project Members  in the Snapshot.
  • Accept the comments in the first pages of the Snapshot.

Conclusion:
The concept is excellent. This tool and the templates will help you structure your adoption plan for the maximum chance of success, without having to invent everything yourself.
I have suggested some improvements mainly on the execution part. I expect Microsoft will be solving those soon. The current plan is already much better than when I used it a month or two ago.

Have you used this tool as well and if yes, what were your findings?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Office365 may not be what you think

I was at SharePoint Connect in Amsterdam recently. It was great to meet some of my “fellow-nerds” again and I attended a number of great sessions by people whose blogs I have been following for some time. I noticed that the word “SharePoint” was used less frequently than the word “Office365”. As I sat there, I become more and more aware that my assumptions about Office365 were no longer valid.
Office 365 = NOT online (Office + SharePoint).

When I started using Office365 in 2011 (mainly to make screenshots for my blog) it was pretty much SharePoint online and the standard online Office tools. I think Lync was part of the game as well, and that made perfect sense to me.
But now, Office365 feels as if many things have been added, the mix has been shaken up, and reorganized into something new. Yammer has pervaded into everything (good!) and it is starting to look and feel like an integrated set of business tools for the regular knowledge worker. May I use the word Digital Workplace? 🙂

My Office365 apps  -an integrated toolset
My Office365 apps -an integrated toolset. Please note I have a “Small Business” subscription so I do not have all functionality.

I am so curious to see how this will evolve!
There are also a few things that bother me.

Small things
FreakOut-SeriouslyNot that “View all site content’  is now at the bottom of the menu instead of at the top and being called “Site Contents”. Or that the Recycle Bin button is now on the top right. Those are merely annoying because I have to retrain my end users, just after telling most of them that their content lives in “View all site content” top left.
Not the fact that Lists and Libraries are now called Apps. It still makes me laugh every time I have to tell that to people!
Not the fact that the space-eating tiles are now sorted alphabetically without grouping, which makes it hard to find the “app”  that you are looking for if you have many, like me. It amuses me that I have always thought that grouping “apps” by Libraries, Picture Libraries and Lists was silly, but now that my wish has been granted I do not like it either. 🙂

Bigger things
What bugs me is the fact that many things that cause issues will be harder to support now, because they are out of my control.
The creation of Groups from Outlook for instance. I know already that Groups will be created easily and abandoned as quickly. Whether that is because of the current lack of functionality in document management, or because projects will be completed and forgotten, I do not know yet. But I expect tons of potentially damaging content (should have been deleted but is not), will be lingering out there beyond the company’s control because it is in someone’s personal space.
I also expect issues with Sharing, because people are encouraged to share documents individually, by having that Share link in a very prominent place. It is even more prominent than editing properties or seeing version history.

The Share button is very prominent
Sharing an individual document with individuals is very (too) easy. The Share button is more prominent than e.g. View or Edit Properties, which are hidden behind the …
The first “Edit” link means editing the document in Word, Excel etc.

I expect issues that I will not be able to solve at my own pace because I can not look into people’s Inbox and OneDrive, and I will have to guide people via Lync to check what the issue is. It will mean less email and more personal contact, which is nice. But “personal attention” is not always in accordance with current customer service theory 🙂

What really bugs me is that Microsoft has decided to launch unfinished products, and that you only have a few weeks to postpone any launch.  I am not sure if we can be ready on time with governance, maintenance, knowledge and training if something really new or controversial is introduced.

What really really bugs me is that functionality may be changing very quickly, which may mean that investments you have made in training or solutions can be wasted if that functionality is retired. Or, worse, that my end users will not be able to keep up with the changes. They are experts in their own field and their digital workplace should support them, not challenge them every time with new functionality.

Personally I am very excited to work with this changed and changing environment. But please be aware that Office365 is no longer “an office suite” and “an intranet” that both happen to be hosted in the cloud. The offer has transformed into something new and you will really have to rethink everything: ownership, administration, governance, end user support, design, etc.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The deconstruction of the intranet

Deconstructed-PuzzleJust after publishing my last post, I found three interesting things that increase my belief that we are currently “deconstructing” the intranet and making it into something different.

1. No more Internal Comms department.

A Dutch bank and insurance company reported they have done away with their Internal Communications department. The rise of enterprise social networks (two-way communication – I wrote about this earlier) as well as the large number of customer-facing employees in webcare and other business processes had made them decide that communications is no longer a role for one department but for all the company.
English version of article.

Why is this important? Because it is often Internal Comms that has been the department that has introduced intranets to their employees as a communication tool for all the company. They have made sure intranets looked good, that people got training and that the corporate news got the best real estate on the homepage.  🙂

Most of them have realized that the intranet is no longer only a communication tool, but a tool to do your work. In that respect, it may be time to hand over the ownership of the intranet to a different part of the organization, and the digital workplace team may be the best candidate. They can take care of a proper technical installation, governance, training, app selection and development, usability etc. (which, incidentally, apart from the technical installation, are all things I really like to do :-))

If Internal Comms is no longer the owner of the intranet/digital workplace, it means that we can finally use that prime real estate for the most important work stuff, regardless of what that is. Perhaps we can also be less fanatic about design and branding, 🙂 and focus on usability.
But of course this is just one company. I have no idea if (m)any others will follow suit.

2. More talk about an app-store on your intranet.

I came across an article about Neil Morgan’s work for an intranet app store at Richemont. And that was done in 2012!

3. More proof that the app intranet exists! 

And then I found another intranet teaser video featuring a Windows 8 tile view with apps! This is the screenshot. (Please click to enlarge)

Screenshot of the desktop
A screenshot from 19s into the video shows the desktop, with various apps. Source: http://vimeo.com/98925422

Once again, all kind of tools are displayed on the desktop and several elements from the intranet are there (news (in the centre – prime real estate!),  time and weather, an HR app). But there appears to be no integrated website called “intranet”.

[Update October 17th, 2014: Unfortunately, the video was suddenly made private, so I removed the embedded link. I am glad I made that screenshot! ]

This feeds my theory that the “intranet” will be replaced by the individual building blocks of the intranet-as-we-have-come-to-know-it + other tools. I will call it the “deconstructed intranet” 🙂
This term has already been used earlier in a blog by Russell Pearson. I am not sure if he meant exactly the same thing though.

Is this the same as a Digital Workplace? I do not think so – this may be part of a Digital Workplace or a stage towards a Digital Workplace, but I think the Digital Workplace has more to it than just a set of tools.

Have you seen other examples of “deconstructed intranets”? I am ever so curious how this will develop!

Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net