“We are thinking of making a fresh attempt to use Yammer for our team. We tried Yammer before, but it didn’t take. Any thoughts on how to proceed?”

I get emails like this a lot. Regular readers at glickmanonline.com know that Yammer is the Microsoft Office 365 enterprise social network tool. Yammer empowers companies and organizations to collaborate effectively so that more time is saved, more transparency is provided, and more work gets done.

I write often about the work involved in launching a Yammer network, and the challenges that occur when encouraging adoption of the new platform. Those challenges for Yammer though are likely the same challenges that would be faced when launching any other kind of collaborative technology.

The email quoted above was sent to me today by a team leader for whom I created a private Yammer space. Too often, those who request these private spaces have a light switch mentality. If we create the space, their users will immediately adopt the skills and habits necessary to make best use of that new space right away. Wouldn’t that be nice! Unfortunately, just because you have built it does not mean they will necessarily come.

Usually, new technology takes a long time to adopt. It is more involved than the simple flick of a switch. Our users have to know the new space is safe. They have to develop new habits to monitor the new platform, and to use the new platform. They have create and hone skills that will take work from one technology environment to another.

I will respond to the email above, but I will respond with probably more answers than questions.

  1. What do you mean when you say “…we tried Yammer before….”?
    This could mean lots of things. I could be that a Yammer network was created, a post was made, and nobody responded. It could mean that a detailed strategy was created with senior executive input and HR support.” My guess is the level of activity was closer to the former, rather than the latter.
  2. You say that Yammer “didn’t take.” Can you explain?
    It sounds like people did not make posts. They did not respond to questions, and resources were not shared. It will be interesting to explore how people were compelled to use the new platform, and exactly what expectations were set.
  3. You ask me if I have “any thoughts as to how to proceed…?
    I have lots of thoughts on how to proceed, that is, if you want to hear them. If you are looking for a platform that does not require your time, expertise or support, you will probably not want to hear it. If you are looking for a platform where immediate results will be delivered, you will probably not want to hear it. If you are looking for a platform that will succeed just because you have turned it on, you will probably not want to hear it.

I understand the desire for quick answers to such questions. We are pressed for time, and we don’t have the resources or bandwidth to do the job at hand, let alone exploring new ways to work. Unfortunately, whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, this is the only way change happens.

You are asking people to change the way they work. You are asking them to change habits. Phillipa Lally, a health researcher at the University College London explored exactly how long it takes a person to change a habit, either personal or work, and the results were startling.

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.

Phillipa Lally

I promise you, your new platform will succeed. I also promise you, it will not happen immediately. Or in a week. Or in a month. Let’s talk. Answer the questions. Give it time.

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