By Gloria Lombardi

In 2011, the ‘Global Working Culture’ initiative was born inside Grundfos with the intent of creating a global organisation where everyone works and collaborates as effectively as if all were “sitting under the same roof” according to the program’s charter.

To support the vision of a Global Working Culture, the company needed a solid collaboration platform consisting of shared business processes and tools that could support them in their daily work. The internal social platform of Yammer was the solution, and as Grundfos’s Digital Workplace Consultant Martin Risgaard Rasmussen (pictured at right) explains, it proved to be the right choice. He recently shared Grundfos’s journey in driving Yammer’s adoption and how this fitted within their overall aim of creating a global culture of collaboration inside the entire company.

GL: Why did Grundfos decide to use Yammer?

MRR: About 18 months ago Grundfos’ top management approved an initiative called ‘Global Working Culture’ which was essentially about how we “can work together as we are sitting under one roof” to use our CEO’s exact phrase. Yammer came into play ahead of an international leadership workshop in Copenhagen where the organisers implemented a new way of getting people, who had never met, to get to know each other a little beforehand. As it turned out Yammer fit the bill for Global Working Culture perfectly and with a success to start with, the choice was obvious.

GL: Were some employees already using that social platform prior its official launch?

MRR: Yes. Our global graduates had been using Chatter for some time to keep in touch with each other and we also had a confluence wiki for some years with a very dedicated community around it. The wiki is still going strong since it complements Yammer quite well but the Chatter community has subsequently moved to Yammer.

GL: What was the overall adoption like at the company?

MRR: We had a huge initial surge driven by the first pilot project as a result of Yammer’s excellent invitation mechanism. After about three weeks we had 1500 people on Yammer although we only sent out around 100 invitations. This surge obviously prompted a lot of questions about what and why since only a limited group used it in the beginning. Looking back, I believe that this enormous – and unexpected – surge helped generate just enough critical mass of people who intuitively understood the power of social media to get us through the rough seas in the beginning. Today we have a growing number of users who see the potential in Yammer and we are even seeing people in quite senior positions who e.g. use Yammer to maintain working relations in teams spread over long distances. At the time of writing we are working to create a network of Yammer ambassadors/champions throughout the company to help showcase the good uses.

GL: What kind of content was shared?

MRR: Initially people were stumbling along so we had all sorts of content with varying quality but mostly with a clear business focus. We have had the odd, somewhat private, shares but surprisingly few. My favorite situation is when a Chinese colleague shared a picture of the beautiful little house where he lived during his assignment in Denmark and we got a very strong response from our Danish colleagues asking “how the [bleep] a house downtown was of ANY interest to ANYone”. Rather than going into a long argument on freedom of speech, I took the chance to talk about relevancy. It may not be relevant for you who drives by that house every day, but for his Chinese colleagues and friends who may never have been to Denmark, it’s a great way to share an experience.

Relevancy is always in the eye of the beholder.

GL: What did Yammer adoption do in terms of employee engagement?

MRR: Hard to say anything specific since we have no before/after measurement to base it on.

GL: Has Yammer helped to improve the service and productivity at Grundfos?

MRR: Evidence remains anecdotal at this stage but we are seeing a number of cases where particularly global teams get a lot of value from collaborating in a more open and transparent way. Eg. our team of procurement assistants who share daily tasks and practical stuff like changes in payment terms, etc. on Yammer and judging from the dialogue around it their efficiency has increased.

GL: Is the Yammer community still growing?

MRR: Growth has slowed significantly following the initial surge of people taking to Yammer. It is no surprise since we now have around 40% of our knowledge workers signed up which we consider very good. The growth now comes from very focused projects or teams who decide to use Yammer as part of their ‘collaboration tool mix’ so we still have a small but steady stream of new people joining. The big upside is that since people now join with a very specific purpose the growth is now more sustainable.

GL: What kind of communities are forming (e.g. any particular groups)?

MRR: We are seeing everything from communities of interest over distributed teams who use it to boost coherence to very operational groups where people coordinate daily tasks. Interestingly we are seeing very few groups around non-work related things but this is something I would expect to see in the future once people get more familiar with the platform.

GL: Are Leadership visible on Yammer? Are they taking part in conversations?

MRR: Top management has signed up but their active contribution has been limited. Studies show that the most important motivator for people is their immediate superior so although the C-suite is important, it is equally important to engage with the many middle managers who ultimately will have to drive the use of the platform.

GL: What are the main benefits that Yammer has brought inside Grundfos?

MRR: Picking one over the other is not easy but one very important thing that Yammer has brought is an increased transparency in the organisation. Before we did have some tools – like our wiki – which allowed people to share their work but Yammer has brought a new level of ambient awareness to the organisation and we are already seeing people helping each other across all sorts of boundaries.

GL: Any major lessons learned thus far?

MRR: The number one lesson has been the extreme importance of having a strong and narrowly defined purpose and a strong driver. It must be very obvious for the members why they are using this new tool because that’s what it is in their eyes. The strong driver is also crucial and of particular importance for that person he or she must coach and nurse the team or community to a much larger extent that many realise when they start out. We have seen communities fail for both reasons which is very unfortunate because you may only get one strike with some people before the new tool is out.

GL: How will Grundfos approach the use of Yammer in the future?

MRR: For the months to come we will focus on getting more and more good use cases as well as getting the before mentioned Yammer ambassador network off the ground. Due to the rapid and successful adoption, we have to show a little consideration when it comes to resources in the team so we have devised a tiered approach in order to prioritise efforts around the use cases. We divide these into three categories: Driven, Supported and Monitored.

Driven is where the initiative has a high strategic value and impact so we support the champions very actively in their efforts – even down to providing 1 on 1 coaching sessions with the users – very effective but also very time consuming.

Supported is where we are approached by people with a strong purpose and a high drive but who need a more in-depth understanding of what a social platform can do and how it works.

Finally, the Monitored initiatives are where people know what they are doing and only need basic guidance.

GL: Any advice to share with other organisations that wish to adopt Yammer?

MRR: Do your homework and make sure that you have working experience with the platform. Meticulous planning is OK but it is impossible to plan for every detail. It’s a much better approach to find a real business challenge that can be solved – start with that in a small scale, grow from there, and make sure that you provide lots of coaching and guidance in the initial period. 1500 users in 3 weeks may sound compelling but I believe that we have had a stroke of luck whereas others may not be as lucky. Should I point to one thing today that I wish we had done better, then it will have to be to provide basic guidance. For a very long time our efforts could best be described as “too little, too late” but now we are beginning to have this in place.


This article originally appeared on simply-communicate