Last Updated Mar 12, 2010 9:07 AM EST
As with most of these tools, I didn't pay too much attention to it at first, and then a number of people I know and trust (colleagues and clients) started using it with mixed results. Some love it and swear by it; others shrug, don't use it consistently, and don't see the advantages. What accounts for the difference in results?
Tech tools get adopted quickly when:
- They start with a small group of passionate adopters who get results. Many companies make the mistake of waiting for a corporate-wide initiative to roll out a tool and then get paralyzed by logistics, training, and the general rollout. On the other hand, project teams with small budgets and huge problems will find solutions and test them under the radar at little cost. Don't try to sell your VP of IT on an enterprise-wide adoption until you can show results and have passionate ambassadors at every level of the team, including your individual contributors.
- Their efforts are recognized at the top. Top-down rollouts seldom work smoothly, but grassroots adoptions supported by senior management have a much better chance of thriving. One great example is at Molson/Coors, which uses Yammer. In my opinion, if there was ever a company that's motivated to get together as often as possible, it would be a brewery. If they're willing to use a tool that keeps them apart, it must have its charms. In particular, they are using it for something that is highly underrated -- posting across project teams, and even divisions, so that they're not hunting for email addresses or trying to figure out who's on what project. Use your bully pulpit: Recognize those who successfully use a tool and encourage (with all the force of your position) others to try it as well. Be specific about how the tool's used and the results it gets (reduced rework, budget impact, user satisfaction). Then trumpet the results to your peers in general conversation, as well as to the rest of the company in your newsletter and company updates. And saying it just once won't get the job done.
- When you're ready to expand, get the right stakeholders involved. One company I know had great luck with a project team that used Yammer, so their company newsletter told everyone about it and encouraged them to do the same. The problem is that there were serious IT challenges (easily overcome if addressed early) in using Yammer when different divisions of the company used different email addresses. This caused all kinds of frustration that resulted in poor adoption of a perfectly good tool and lots of grumbling. Here's a hint: if the big guns in the IT department aren't on board, don't try to roll it out widely yet. Successful implementations will have the chief technology officer or vice president of IT on the membership list. Find a champion in senior management (especially IT) as quickly as possible and identify systemic challenges before inviting everyone on board.
photos by Flickr user Geishaboy500, CC 2.0