Category Design Case Study I: Team TRUST.

I introduced the idea of communications and culture category design last week. A reminder as to its definition:

A way to create and frame a new service or product, often in an emergent or game-changing way, using the principles of design thinking: What is… What if… What wows… What works…

Stretch Towards Everything.

Here are notes on case study one, from 10 years ago, when I introduced an enterprise social network into my workplace, and revolutionized how we trusted each other in the process..

Here is the PDF version.

The enduring challenges (What is…):

  1. Technology: Intranets suck. We interviewed colleagues around the world. No-one appreciates the tool; no-one wants to manage the data / site.
  2. People: Institutional knowledge is privatized. We don’t know what others know. We lack trust that their efforts are worthwhile. Our research showed that people wanted to be more connected with colleagues, personally and professionally.

The point of view (what if…)

  • Let’s get rid of the intranet blackhole. 
  • Let’s replace with a social network where people own their own content and messaging; and conversations can bloom organically. 
  • Let’s trust colleagues to orchestrate their own organizational learning and sharing.

It took a couple of years to get through Steering Committee (this was very early days of social business when the only C-suite question was “So, you mean this “Facebook” thing?”) Patience was critical.

The sell-ution (what wows…)

We first licensed a Learning Management Service (LMS), went through SME training, and determined the cognitive load for end users would be too high. It was immediately junked in favour of Yammer, a social network later purchased by Microsoft.

Yammer worked because its usability was so excellent. It required zero formal training. It was also cloud-based, at a time when the enterprise was fully on-premise. We persuaded IT to kick-start its own change journey to the cloud. 

[NB: Years later, the CIO told me, “You did us a big favour in forcing us to adapt when we didn’t want to.” It was a realization that my skill was to bring the emergent edge to this (traditional) organization.)

The mobilization (what works…)

We started using Yammer in beta. It had an “Invite your colleagues” button. Within a week we had 25% of colleagues, our early adopters, from whom we learned. Within one month we had 80% signed up and announced our go-live process. 

Ultimately, we ran a single (virtual) training session with each office; signed up the laggard 10-15%; transferred over a single folder of content from the intranet and went to a live, organizational-wide set of conversations about the work, the culture, and the people that eventually covered 200 groups, only 4 of which were centrally controlled.

Pivotally, we refused to act as a police force, upholding the rule of law. We showed trust in our colleagues; and they repaid that trust 100-fold. They shared their stories and insight. A company with offices in 20+ countries came together as one, transforming and aligning itself. The “intranet” conundrum dissipated. Oversight required only 0.1 FTE, leaving the Communications team to move along the value chain <see CULTURE and FLOW case studies>.

[NB: We determined that our Yammer-as-intranet use case was a world first (2011). I was invited to be a member of the Yammer customer advisory board; and to speak at Microsoft events across North America about our social journey.]

Dis!Organize Reference material:

Go public II (ESN)Ahead of your time  – Trust

This Much We Know.

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