Imagine that people in your team, in your company are using Yammer. It is nice and secure and you are reading each other’s updates and really becoming “connected”. This feeling of connectedness creates more engagement on your part so you continue to answer Yammer’s question: “What are you working on?” Soon, people see your updates and reach out to help you, you see others’ updates and reach out to help them. It is like you belong to one big Borg brain (if you are a StarTrek fan).
Before you know it, you come across a challenge, something you could really use some help with and your first thought becomes: let me search Yammer. Wow! This is a pivotal moment–once you start to search your microblog rather than Google. However, you know there must be someone else in your firm who can help–and you won’t find that on Google. So you search for a keyword (or hashtag keyword) and you find someone who you can talk to. You reach out and before you know it the 2 (or more) of you are helping each other. Congratulations–you are now part of a Community of Practice.
Now just imagine that you have found a solution and you post an updated with a link to that solution. You are now embarking on Knowledge Management. Yes, I said it, KM, I know it was a dirty word in the 90s when we all spent millions on systems that did not work but lets examine why they didn’t work? Well first it was because people did not participate–check–microblogs have solved that issue, I am not sure why but once you start you can’t stop contributing. The other challenge was that KM systems could not really tell what your context was. Remember, context is king! You can give me a link to a great paper but if it is not relevant to what I am doing or otherwise interested in–guess what, I am not going to read it. So, microblogs also have the issue of context licked–after all they ask you what you are doing/working on in that moment. Amazing!
So, not only do microblogs give you access to communities of practice and experts but also to content in a somewhat organized (thinking hash tags) fashion. What are they doing–what KM systems always aspired to do: to capture and manage an organization’s knowledge.
Let’s take it one step further. How many times have you been speaking with a colleague, or worse, your boss, who said, I could really use someone who has experience in X. You are standing there thinking–gees I have experience in that, how come she doesn’t know? Well the truth is how can we expect everyone to know everything we do–it is impossible–or is it? What would happen if, for example, lets say a year, everything you were working on was captured in your status updates through Yammer? What if the people in your company can search on certain keywords and they could see all the people in the organization who have ever, at least in that year, worked on something like that or are currently working on something similar? How much easier would it be to assemble the best project teams?
Think about it… the possibilities of a tool that captures context, content and experts is endless. I wonder if the folks at Yammer realize their potential–LOL! (If you are wondering why not Twitter? No reason, just that people don’t generally use it this way. Just by nature of the question Twitter asks: What are you doing? versus Yammer’s question: What are you working on? In addition, many companies want a secure, not visible to the public, status update timeline that they can control–after all for this to really work, employees have to be comfortable with saying anything in an update–especially if it is a company-related problem they are dealing with–and most organizations don’t want that to be public.)