Encouraging others to Work Out Loud

Last week was international Working Out Loud week. It's my role to introduce new ideas about social collaboration and learning, such as WOL, to my work (a 22,000+ employee global brand). The company is over one hundred years old and it sometimes feels like many of the processes have been around the same time. Internal social is frighteningly new to some as it opens up silos, geographies, processes, systems and accountabilities.

I was torn at first: should I encourage people to WOL in our open Yammer network anywhere, or a private group? I knew from previous experience that effective internal social networks require trust and a lot of safe practice. Most organizations have low collective digital literacy, so I need to scaffold each social experience to meet people where they are. I also wanted activities that stimulated connection - and very little content.

My solution was to create a WOL week group on Yammer. It was private, but any member could invite and approve new members (and I announced it on the All Company feed). To help stimulate posting and trust, I created a challenge for each of the five days that I released in the early morning European time (my nighttime) each day: 

  1. What are you working on today?
  2. What are you working on right now?
  3. Post a photo of where you are working? (We had some lovely pics!)
  4. What is a challenge you can't solve alone?
  5. What work system or process frustrates you and you wish you could change - and how?
 (Source: http://wolweek.wordpress.com/)

(Source: http://wolweek.wordpress.com/)

We went from a new group late on a Sunday evening to 59 people at the end of the week. Of those, around 20% were fully active and others are somewhat active (jumping into conversations once they had started). The numbers were good - 233 messages in 68 threads and only 19 messages that received no response.

We had a mix of new employees and 20+ year veterans, different roles/depts, and members from all over the globe. We had some new ideas formulate and some questions answered by the crowd - all great social beginnings. People are still requesting to join the group.

Next decision is how to continue and support the current group and inspire more to join us? I want to encourage my new WOL'ers to move out of the group space and WOL in their own spaces. I'm weighing the options - one challenge a week, or to do this one week of every month. I like the latter, but I'll ask the group to decide.

With enterprise social, small wins are the way to success. This was a good one - small relative to the size of the company, but good vibes nonetheless.