Yammer and Working Out Loud: A Mobius Strip of Mission and Functionality


It was probably during a Junior High School algebra class I first learned about the Mobius strip concept, a surface with one side and no boundry. A Mobius strip can easily be created by connecting both ends of a strip of paper together, after giving it a half turn twist. The effect is an object that before had two sides, now has one. An object that before had an end and a beginning, is now endless and eternal.

Through my management of a Yammer network, I came across the concept of Working Out Loud. A Yammer network enables us to bring our work beyond just ourselves, and connect others in our network to our ideas, our challenges and our successes. Additionally, we can now become connected to the work of others by reviewing groups in our Yammer network, and be more informed on what is happening in different teams throughout our organizations.

41I09QksHALWorking Out Loud is a wonderful book by John Stepper that teaches “instead of networking to get something, you lead with generosity. You make your work visible and frame it as a contribution.” In many ways, Yammer and Working Out Loud compliment one another, and I hoped that if I could bring Working Out Loud to my organization, my colleagues would learn new skills, and I would see more adoption of our Yammer network.We brought Working Out Loud circles (a practical application of what is taught in the book) to our organization.

I was thrilled when our Social Media Manager joined the second Working Out Loud circle. I hoped she would find ways to incorporate the teachings of Working Out Loud in her work, and I also hoped that she would become more involved in our Yammer network.

A Working Out Loud circle lasts for 12 weeks, and our circle members use a private Yammer group to stay in touch between meetings and to share files and links. I knew I would not see results immediately…I was in the this for the long haul. Imagine my delight when, during our 3rd week meeting, our Social Media Manager said “I think I finally ‘get’ Yammer. I like it!” She is posting comments in our group, replying to posts and sharing files.

The functionality of Yammer supports and empowers our employees in executing the mission of our organization. Because of Yammer, we bring Working Out Loud to our organization, which provides our employees with new tools and skills…new functionalities, in doing their work.

I don’t think, in the case of our Social Media Manager, that Yammer would have necessarily been adopted without Working Out Loud. And yet, we would not have brought Working Out Loud to our employees had we not first used Yammer. Ideally, more of our staff who experience Working Out Loud will bring more of their work to our Yammer network, which will in turn encourage more people to participate in Working Out Loud.

Just like the Mobius strip, there is no end.

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