Is Yammer really a Twitter in the Enterprise?


I don’t think it is.

Having seen a posting from @pistachio about Yammer, I wittered on our internal blogging sytem about this – and was astonished and delighted to get a ping from @richarddennison saying there was a BT group on yammer.

I joined it. Nice sign up, requires a corporate address, a confirmatory email is sent to the address. There’s a nice web interface, and a cute little AIR desktop client.

There’s a familiar ability to follow people, see “All” – basically a corporate public timeline, and  an in-built tagging and search facility.

I really quite like it.

But – and there’s always going to be a but – their monetisation model seems to be that you can have a network free; it’ll cost you $1 per person, per month if you want to admin it.

That includes removing people, setting session details, branding. Note, some later experimentation confirms that any member of the network can block another by going to the admin section and saying the user is no longer part of the network. This forces a reconfirmation of the email address; if the blocked individual no longer  has an email address then they won’t get back in. That addressed one of my larger concerns.

I don’t anticipate a huge signup from within BT. Say 100k employees, 2% signed up… that would require $24k a year; and a huge control overhead, given that there’s free signup. As we have people retire, leave for other contracts they’d all need to be excluded.

We have some internal tools, that link to our HR system (so low admin costs for us) which might be easier, though the interface isn’t as fancy.

I’d add that I miss the “broad church” of Twitter. I wish it luck, but I don’t see it taking over my microblogging.  It may, perhaps, give people new to blogging/microblogging a quasi-safe environment to try in. I think if it gets taken up for that we’ll need to remind folk that it isn’t really a controlled environment.

Of course, the easy sign up process means that anyone with a domain could use it. I could set up an Ellwood Family group.  But why wouldn’t I use Twitter instead, where I can choose to follow my family – and whoever else I’m interested in?

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Personal branding and blogging

Sherlock Holmes

… or what happened to ShaiDorsai?

Following a personal branding/social media engagement post on Richard’s blog, I thought “Yes, fair, I ought to make it plainer who I am, and take more open ownership of my opinions”.

Another guy whose blog I read (actually, I take an RSS feed but that’s another matter), and whose posts I admire is Chris Brogan. He’s written a whole series of post, including Elements of a Personal Brand:

Build a Destination

This comes first in giving people a way to reach you, to see you, to know what you’re about. In this case, I mean giving people a website (preferably a blog), a phone number, an email account, a twitter account, a LinkedIN profile, and a Facebook profile. At minimum.

Now, I had the last 3 in my name, so it seemed churlish not to provide a recognisable blog and email address…

Get your blog a domain name

Now, I started *this blog* on, as it was easy – but the suffix takes away from my identity…

I use, amongst others, for domain names and I ordered from there. It’s about £11 a year. Initially, I just had a frame forward to my blog, but then decided I’d rather do it *properly*. I followed the instructions at the WordPress FAQ – after a moment’s hesitation, as you can’t pay for the domain upgrade until you have pointed your domain at the WordPress nameservers. That came at a cost of $10 a year.

Sort out your email

In line with WordPress’s suggestion, I used Google Apps for Your Domain to sort this out, again there are easy Google Mail configuration instructions. [It’s probably easier if you don’t already use GoogleApps – but if you do, you can find your configuration code at]

So, I can now be contacted at my domain, too. Currently I forward mail to another account, but can always find it through Google Apps email.

Why not self-host?

I have another blog (at which I self hosted, so I could learn about WordPress, and I may even do that at sometime.

Until then, it’s easy to use, and since *I* own the domain this blog now sits under I could easily point it to a self-host if I want – and makes it easy to export your blog to ease the transition…

Image Credit: gregwake

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Trust your people… let them free.

trust sculpted

Having a quick glance at Hugh Macleod’s excellent blog, from last week, my attention was caught by his humanification bit where he chats about a previous posting:

4. You’ve already done “efficient”. We’re living in a post-efficiency world now. We already know how to make things better, cheaper and faster than the previous generation. We already know how to squeeze our suppliers till the pips squeak. We already know how to build systems that maximize profits at every stage of the production and selling process. We’re already outsourcing our stuff to China, and so is everyone else. Been there. Done that. So where does the growth need to come from? What needs to happen, in order to save your job?


5. The growth will come, I believe, not by yet more increased efficiencies, but by humanification. For example, take two well-known airlines. They both perform a useful service. They both deliver value. They both cost about the same to fly to New York or Hong Kong. Both have nice Boeings and Airbuses. Both serve peanuts and drinks. Both serve “airline food”. Both use the same airports. But one airline has friendly people working for them, the other airline has surly people working for them. One airline has a sense of fun and adventure about it, one has a tired, jaded business-commuter vibe about it. Guess which one takes the human dimension of their business more seriously than the other? Guess which one still will be around in twenty years? Guess which one will lose billions of dollars worth of shareholder value over the next twenty years? What parallels do you see in your own industry? In your own company?

The comments on that post led to this post which was talking about how Lee Bryant viewed “humanification” – or as he put it “Humanising the Enterprise

By elevating the individuals in the organisation above systems, and by re-balancing the relationship between people and process, we can create a social fabric that lives and breathes the values that large companies are trying to instill in their organisations. We have the tools and the ideas to do this in ways that were not possible before, and we are in a position to finally move beyond Taylorism and the factory model to a new era of genuinely people-powered organisations and networks. We know how to create rich and purposeful social networks as vehicles for collaboration and co-operation. We know how to aggregate ideas and negotiate common language to create better forms of information organisation and retrieval. We know a lot more about what is possible when people trust each other by default; and we also know a lot more about how to engage in debate and deliberation with people who agree with us and people who do not.

In my own company there are ongoing tensions about achievement, performance, reward – and there’s a perception that there’s not as much trust as there could be. Let’s hope we do trust our people – and deliver what Lee and Hugh seem to think is achieveable.

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Communication messages – from dog training to humans?

attentive dog

What could you learn from a dog trainer?

This came about from the last couple of Sundays, as I have had to substitute for my wife in the dog training classes our youngest dog is going to.

You need to keep audience attention

In dog training, we do this by using treats to aid the dog’s focus; in wider life, don’t be the same as everyone else. If everyone’s doing Death by Powerpoint, and reading notes – talk without notes; look at how you’re presenting your data. If you can’t give a fast pitch… work until you can.

Consistency of Communication

In dog training, we always heel the dog at the left. Make sure your messages tell the same story; carry the branding. If they don’t, your audience is left wondering if you know your own story.

Clarity of Communication

While your audience might not appreciate one word commands “SIT!” “STAY!“, they want the message to be easy.

  • Why are they here?
  • What’s the story?
  • What do you want from them?
  • What’s the call to action?

Speak with Authority

Dogs need a firm tone. Humans need to know that you’re worth their attention; if you’re in front of them – know they want to hear what you have to tell them; know that you know best of all what you want to tell them. So, tell them, with authority; like you mean it, and you care.

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Starfish organisations and contribution…

Everyone wants to contribute


Just read The Starfish and The Spider, an interesting book by Beckstrom and Brafman. I’ll post more about this on another day but I liked the focus on Emotional Intelligence and their proclaimed rules, particularly:

Rule 5:Everyone wants to contribute

It’s all about trust.

Why doubt them?

I look at my firm’s values, which are:

  • Trustworthy – we do what we say we will
  • Helpful – we work as one team
  • Inspiring – we create new possibilities
  • Straightforward – we make things clear
  • Heart – we believe in what we do

and sigh.


Because I have to produce evidence, related to my work area that shows how I have demonstrated these values, using a narrow form of words. I must produce evidence for each of these, every quarter.

If there’s time to spare from the day job…

This evidence will be assessed by my line manager; my unit manager; it will then be assessed by our HR partners – who, as in many large corporates nowadays, don’t even work for the same organisation.

This HR organisation and senior managers will then endeavour to weigh everyone’s evidence – and will attempt to ensure that the evidence is used to justify a normal distribution of performance ranges – which will impact pay and bonuses.

Dark blue is less than one standard deviation ...Image via Wikipedia

Is this the best way to spend your people’s time? Google do something constructive with 20% of their folk’s time…

I can understand some of the motivation for it. People say, “How come so many people are marked Good or Very Good, if the team, or unit, or company isn’t achieving their objectives? Maybe we should mark more of them lower as they haven’t delivered.”

I can understand the motivation, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right. If you’re rowing in a galley, it doesn’t matter how hard you row, if the the helmsman points you somewhere… that’s where you’re going. If you’re aware of where he’s pointing, and you’ve discussed how hard you need to row… – you can’t necessarily influence the destination.

Making your people jump through hoops to prove what they’re doing neither demonstrates belief in their trustworthiness, nor fosters a team ethic, nor encourages sharing of knowledge – which I’ve previously mentioned when talking about performance management.

I gather there are changes coming. Maybe, I’ll be trusted.

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Engagement and trampolines

Do you recognise your opportunities?

Doer or sayer? Like many, I have good intentions – I mean, I’ve even looked at

It seems I’m not alone.

I flew into Manchester, England tonight. It was a warm pleasant evening, around 6.30 pm. I noticed, as I have done often, how the United Kingdom’s historic climate – and sky high energy costs – has meant how few swimming pools there are.

What there was were numerous dark circles. As I looked closer, I recognised them as trampolines – all with their little net guards round them. In some areas, about 1 in 5 houses seemed to have them.

What opportunities do you have?

I’d guess most of these were bought by parents, eager to ensure in these “stranger-danger”, “school run” days that their kids have a safe place to play – which will encourage them into physical activity. A laudable intent as the UK heads – seemingly inexorably – towards an obesity crisis. [Why do you think I *look at* physical fitness sites – I know what I should do…]

What did all of the trampolines have in common? Yes, they were black. Yes, they were round. Yes, they all had nets around them. What was most noticeable? They were *all* empty.

Why? I don’t know – it *could* have been because of a wonderful kids programme on TV – or it could be because many parents – and I’m as guilty of this as some – think that they need to compensate for the time the spend away from their children by spending money and giving them “worthwhile” things to do…

The children – quite possibly – have differing ideas on how to spend their time.

Do you take your opportunities?

As we get older, opportunities come to us in different ways. We have less of parents pushing us towards things – and more of alternatives at work, in our social lives – and even in the blogosphere.

I think sometimes, I can reject the opportunities that are there – when I should be grabbing them with both hands…I need to learn more about what Web2.0 might offer me; I need to coach others into using it to help them; I need to use my residual fitness to help me get fitter – so I can enjoy my life longer.

That was brought home to me today when I attended a Coastguard shout, and had to chat to a young man who’d been rescued adrift in the Firth. He was fine, but if he hadn’t been, I would have been searching for his remains. I want to enjoy my life for as long as possible – and part of that is enjoying the opportunities life presents me.

What about you? Are you rejecting opportunities?

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How personal is your blog?

How do you blog?

In my blogging, I tend to post about things that interest me from a work perspective, or changes in social networking. I tend to mention domestic matters in passing to set context, or to explain what’s stimulated me to write.

How do you tweet?

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, the widely used micro-blogging tool. You can usually see my latest posts in the right hand side of my blog. I usually answer the question “What are you doing?”. Sometimes it’s about things at work; quite often what I’m doing at home – maybe a concert I’m going to, or what I’m cooking.

Why do you blog?

I blog partly to clarify my understanding of things, partly to record what I’m learning, and partly to learn more – usually from the comments people leave, but also as I am driven to learn more to talk about…

Why do you tweet?

This is a little more complicated. I am a homeworker, and my office surroundings are 4 walls and my email/IM/phone clients. So, no “water-cooler” chats. An internal newsgroup can provide company scuttlebutt, though this is often rather parochial. Twitter gives me a window into the lives of others; not just their working life, but often what they choose to share about themselves.

I feel this gives a more rounded view of them as people, so in the spirit of reciprocity I tweet about my doings.

I don’t feel this is a case of being good to Momma, but I can’t resist the opportunity to link Queen Latifah…

So, I tweet for connectedness.

How does your family feel about this?

Now we come to the nub of the post. I’m interested in your views about this, following some discussions I’ve had within my own family.

“It feels like we’re living in a goldfish bowl” said one.

I’ve said that my twitter feeds are read by probably no more than 150 people maximum, most of whom may share similar types of things; my blogging tends to be non-domestic; and my Facebook is pretty restricted, too.

My mother has a very closed down Facebook – family only; my wife has no online presence to speak of. Neither of them see why I’d want to share anything publicly; I’ve talked about building trust, developing an authentic voice and so on, but they remain unconvinced.

Obviously, family comes first, and so I will twitter less about anything domestic, but I’d welcome suggestions as to how I can best portray why “What are you doing?”  might be of interest to others – and harmless to your family.

Weighing Contributions and Participation


Should we reward participation?

Is adding useable knowledge to your employer useful? Should it be part of your actual job?

If it was part of your job, how would you measure it? Should you?

To save time, I think the right answers are Yes; Yes; Yes; Various ways; Yes

Why ask the question now?

As my interest in Social media and wikis has risen over the last year or so, I’ve watched JP talk about social software in the enterprise (many links), and recently been delighted when my firm started the nascent internal social networking, announced publicly by my colleague Richard Dennison

There’s a fair amount of wiki use within the firm, and I like them – despite my ongoing discussion with another colleague Sandy Blair.

We’ve now got an excellent WordPress instance running internally – I think I accidentally publicly announced that, shortly before the official announcement. I like that too, particularly how easy it is to search. I’m still amused that Sandy ranks first for “Glitter Glue” within BT.

We have had a BTpedia – an enterprise wide information wiki for some time.

It’s a source of some mild pleasure that I’ve contributed 0.25% of the content (including some of the most edited/updated articles) although I’m .00125% of the workforce.

This stuff is really taking off, internally

Why the fuss about job descriptions/measuring etc?

One reason that is suggested for non-participation in wikis/social media is the “not real work” argument. People express concern that their management will think they are slacking if they add to wikis/blogs.

Make adding to corporate knowledge part of people’s jobs, with some sort of weighting to it, and people *may* be more willing to do it

As far as measuring goes, until we move to a more Deming driven organisation, you have to show what and how you contribute. Measuring something about your contributions might provide that.

What should we measure

As is often the case, I’m again somewhat beaten to the point by Richard, who in his excellent recent post says

Leadership will be a combination of willingness to engage and connect, and the value of those engagements and connections to the community of users and to the complete enterprise ecosystem. Leadership won’t be about power but influence. And, value to the ecosystem will be measured in terms of contribution rather than achievement

he then highlights

Everyone in a enterprise ecosystem will need to understand that while every perception/view is equally valid, they are not of equal importance… Importance will be a combination of that inferred by the enterprise (as currently happens) and that inferred by the community (willingness to connect/engage and value of those connections/engagements as measured by the community).

To me, that suggests a combination of

  • objective measure – perhaps a combination of separate views, incoming links, other citations, and maybe number of comments/edits
  • subjective measures – post ranking/karma awards

What do you think should be measured in Enterprise Social Media?

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An excellent post about RSS

Why you should use RSS

I’d talked about this at some length in a previous post – and basically it lets you manage vast streams of data very easily.

But *how* do you use RSS?

I’d talked about that too.

The talented Brian Kelly decided to go not one, but several better. He’s decided to make a publicly available video showing you how to use NetVibes and Google reader.

Nice one Brian.

What do you remember?


Good with dates?

I remember my birthday. My wife, when she’s being cynical, which is rare says one reason we married was that we have the same birthday. I stand *no* chance of ever forgetting her birthday.

One of our friends gave us a counted cross stitch tapestry to celebrate our wedding day. It, with the helpful date and year, hang over the bed. I don’t forget our anniversary, either.

Do you remember phone numbers/email addresses?

I used to work in a service organisation. Back in the 80s, I would have a list of maybe a hundred numbers for organisations/people I needed to contact in my head. I probably recognised a couple of hundred customer numbers, too.

Nowadays, I either use a cellphone directory, a shortcode button or web based lookup. Why would I need to remember a number? I can’t tell you my mother or brother’s full street address. Why would I remember it? I send email, and gifts… usually come from Amazon… who remember their address for me.

What about your IDs?

I use my employee number at work all the time; I guess it’s like your Army number. Hard to forget. Elsewhere – I have loads of IDs. Sometimes, my browser remembers them. Sometime sxipper remembers them.

Best of all, I like my OpenID. Somewhere that accepts that makes me feel good.

Some things, you just don’t remember

I must have vacuumed the stairs in my house 300 times. Each stair, individually. Do you know how many steps are in the main flight of stairs in your home? Without checking?

Some passwords are like that. Hard to remember. Tech Mavens did a piece on password complexity a while back. When I get a password rejected with “No non-alphanumerics” or “Repeated digits” I get really wound up. One system at work I had to get reset 15 times before I’d worked out a mnemonic I could use.

If you are designing a system, remember your user might have to remember scores of IDs and passwords. Don’t protect them so much they won’t use your system.

Oh, my stairs? There are 13 of them. I counted them on Sunday. I wondered why I didn’t know how many there were.
What don’t you remember?

Picture Credit S@Z