I recently did a short piece of work with the exec team of a large global organisation that is very knowledge centric. Although they have a desire to become more innovative, their sheer size means that this is a long-term undertaking. At the beginning of this project, we were gathering some information and ideas about their current way of working, and how this could be improved, when I noticed that some staff had set up a yammer group. If you are not familiar with yammer (www.yammer.com) – it’s a twitter-like microsharing tool aimed for use within organizations. Basically the way that it works is that it allows you to join a private space for your organization, based on your email domain. All users that share the same email domain can communicate in this group. Within this “global” group, people can also set up private groups (where they can share private info).
In my opinion, the main point of using a tool such as Yammer, is to open up communication across groups that may not know what each other are doing. What I saw in practice, was people creating far more private groups than open groups, mainly because of the fear of exposing information. While this is understandable, it defeats the purpose of using such a tool doesn’t it?
I have found that what works best is to have a much higher % of open groups, and as few private groups as possible. Private groups should only be used for things like maybe board level discussions etc. If you have too many private groups, you just end up reflecting the organizational silos that already exist, with a tool that should be used to break silos down?
What I take from this: I doesn’t matter if you have great tools if there is not a culture of sharing and openness.
Changing the culture to one of openness can be tough! Anyone managed to make some progress in this area of cultural transformation – got some real world stories? I’d love to hear them.