Yammer and the Light Switch Mentality

DCF 1.0The light switch is one of the most simple pieces of technology we use in any given day.

One piece of plastic. There is a clear, embedded display to indicate the status of the light, and changing the lights’ status is as easy as…well…flicking a switch.

We see the tool, and know what to do with the tool, and in almost every case, the tool operates as we believe it should. Over time, we have developed a mentality about the light switch, and what we expect it to do. We see it. We flick it. It works.

This mindset of convenience and functionality, this “light switch mentality,” creeps into other areas of our lives, especially technology. We expect to “flick the switch,” and our technology will work right away. We open the box, peel the plastic off the screen with a delicious satisfaction, press the power button and see the screen light up for the first time. It just works.

To an extent, we have this same mentality with web sites and digital platforms. We click on the icon, or type in the web address, and we (realistically) expect to see the information we want to see, and interact with the people we want to interact with, right away.

Yammer, Microsoft’s Enterprise Social Networks that supports communication and collaboration within an organization, works differently. Though we can easily set up a network and invite users into our online space, further success will take much more than a mere flick of a switch. Yammer network managers will be much more likely to find success if they understand the time involved, and if they understand the changes they are asking users to make.

“Please, change the way you work.”
Though email is a very poor tool for group communication and collaboration, it is the software platform most of our colleagues have used for decades. Yammer network managers need to understand that users are being asked to abandon a tool they are comfortable with and know how to use, in favor of something they have never used before.

“Please, work transparently.”
Yammer encourages users to work in a way that makes their work processes, challenges and successes visible to their entire organization. When our organizations are more transparent, colleagues are better connected, duplicative efforts are avoided and opportunities for cooperation and connection are found. And yet, Yammer network managers need to understand that transparency represents an incredible leap of faith and habit for most people to make. What was once private is now public. Information once closely guarded by a chosen few is now out in the open for all to see.

“Please, check here regularly.”
We are in the habit of checking email every day. We are in the habit of checking websites for the news, social media and business networking. When a new Yammer network is rolled out, Yammer network managers need to understand that a network represents a new place to check, and therefore a new habit to create.

We can quickly turn the lights off and on. We just need to flick the switch. But, a Yammer overly-complex-light-switch-covers-by-green-tree-jewelry-1network succeeds only after people have developed new habits, after they have learned how to use new tools and after they have learned how to work in new ways.

So, launch your Yammer network, but do so with the clear understanding that just because you have “flicked the switch,” the light will not turn on for everyone right away. Train your users, give them compelling reasons to visit the platform, and help them to realize the benefits of working in a transparent, collaborative platform. Give yourself and your organizational leadership the gift of time, patience and understanding. Change like this does not come easy.



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