More joy and exhilaration from a skinny blue box could not have been had yesterday! Every minute seemed to bring news of several additional colleagues joining the online Yammer community. I could hardly contain my excitement! I probably tried the patience of my team with intermittent exclamations of surprise, awe and wonder as the stream filled with folks joining from far flung areas of the world. Samoa, Hong Kong, Peru, Europe. And not only was this a global gathering it spanned the organizational hierarchy with Managing Directors to Physical Facilities folks, Directors, managers and others. As I watched the count rise to 400 I asked my team how long it might take for the next 100 members to join. In what I thought was fairly optimistic thinking I guessed another month. Surely this trend could not continue as it had and sustain a similar influx to the space. The total count of 500 came and went and by the end of the day the members on Yammer reached 619. I was astounded!
My team and I looked to the intranet for a potential explanation of the sudden and momentous rise in account activations. As Yammer is a third party external tool, I was extremely skeptical that it would have made it through the official communication channels of the conservative bureaucracy. No signs of any intranet posting regarding the availability and awareness of Yammer. I reached out to a woman in Hong Kong, welcomed her warmly and asked her how she received her invite. She shared with me that the invitation had been sent by Larry Richman, with whom she is not even remotely familiar, and in her estimation may have been a mistake. She, nonetheless, was curious and did not hesitate to jump in. She also invited many others in her office to join her on the tool. I thanked her for her perspective and encouraged her to see this as an opportunity for her to be inviting and friendly and make more connections and stimulate collaborative conversations.
The only conclusion I can come to is that someone clicked the Invite All button which potentially generated emails to approximately 3,000 individuals. An investigation for another time would be to understand how the email addresses of 3,000 individuals made their way into the Yammer invite utility. Did someone import their extensive rolodex? Some questions around this event might shed much needed light on the situation. What were the conditions that incited someone to push the Invite All button now rather than and time prior? What was the motivation for pushing the Invite All button? How many of those invited extended their own invitations to local colleagues? What was their motivation for reaching out to others?
Realizing that accounts activated is only a small fraction of the work needed to cultivate relationships, conversation and community, the gears shifted slightly in my mind. I am hopeful for the future but am concerned about people actually using the tool. I felt comfortable in a smaller sized base of colleagues. The environment was very familiar and open. I am not entirely sure how I might influence the environment for the hundreds of new joiners and still maintain the warm, inviting atmosphere the initial folks enjoyed. The idea of deputizing others to give attention to these matters is compelling but difficult to enact without establishing relationships. I anticipate that many will assume those types of roles themselves and lead out in cultivating the ideal conditions for their teams and communities to flourish but failing to have some mechanism / intervention to stimulate that thought and activity would be a haphazard approach to the situation.
A few salient nuggets of knowledge appear from this experience. The curiosity of those invited is more compelling than originally thought. I have been a strong proponent of relationships of trust as the catalytic force driving many of actions and decisions. Relationships apparently do NOT account for all of our motivations. I also see indicators that employees are eager for and anticipate greater connection to one another even in a corporate work setting. Signals such as very brief profiles and posts of confusion may reflect fatigue for technology or profile creation.
Much much more to know and understand about this phenomenon. Here’s to people connecting and conversing online!