Next week, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) will be welcoming 6,000 Reform Jewish congregational lay and professional leaders to our Biennial convention in Boston, MA. This is the biggest event the URJ hosts, with maybe the most impact. Almost every member of our staff is involved in the preparation for Biennial in some way, and in order to ensure a successful event, we must communicate and collaborate with individuals and teams for several months leading up to the event.
This year, Yammer played a key role in the successful planning for Biennial, and we have seen it used in key, necessary ways in both the home Yammer network reserved for staff, and in our external network called The Tent, with now over 10,000 users from throughout North America.
There is a Biennial 2017 group in The Tent external network where our Biennial team promotes the event, and engages with attendees. Questions are asked and answered. Community is created as people make plans for dinner and look for roommates.
There is also a Biennial 2017 group in the staff home network. This is where colleagues collaborate on the details of Biennial. Important information is shared in a centralized location
There are over 140 learning sessions at Biennial, and at most of those sessions documents are shared for attendees to bring home. Our Tent Yammer network gives us a valuable opportunity to share those documents with people during Biennial, and with people who cannot come to Biennial.
Because these files are hosted in The Tent, the files will remain accessible long after Biennial has ended. They can be used by people who attended the learning session, by those who wanted to attend, but couldn’t, and by those for whom the information would be helpful.
Files are also being shared in the Staff network. Now that Yammer is deeply integrated with Office365, we are able to track all staff members schedules in an Excel file shared from OneDrive. Everyone can update the file and review the file from their desktop or from their mobile device. We also collaborate on other Biennial related files, link to important files in The Tent, and find that time and effort is being saved due to enhanced transparency and collaboration.
Every learning session is assigned a unique topic, or hashtag. When presenters share their materials in The Tent, and when they attach the appropriate topic, they now have a powerful way to share resources and encourage conversation. Topics become a branding mechanism, an organizational tool and a talking point. Topics are included in Powerpoint presentations, and in the Biennial app so all resources can easily be found. So connections can be made. So the learning can continue.
There are 6,000 people expected to attend Biennial. Through our Yammer network, we can now share information and connect with people as we have never been able to before.
We keep information organized in groups. We make resources available. We curate the files with effective file names and topics. As a result, Biennial attendees can now easily connect to the information that is important to them, create networks valuable to them, and continue learning that will be meaningful to them. The stars are truly aligned.