Managing disruptive collaboration tools

Yammer has a wonderfully disruptive marketing strategy – anyone with an email address can sign up and become part of the network for that email domain. No IT procurement process, no buy-in, no permission from anyone – you just get on with it and start collaborating.

Collaboration behind your back

A lot of companies will be using Yammer without knowing anything about it – even if they have an official collaborative platform as part of their intranet such as Sharepoint or Lotus Connections.

Some do know and try to “force” users over to their official platform, going as far as adding Yammer to the list of blocked sites.

But what should you do? how do you deal with Yammer, if Yammer isn’t your chosen option?

Don’t punish collaboration

The fact that people have chosen to use Yammer is great. It means they want to share and collaborate. These are exactly the people you want to use as role models for other employees who haven’t quite made the cultural leap into a digitally collaborative work place.

The fact that they have chosen to make Yammer their tool of choice rather than your official solution isn’t ideal, but it’s not something that should be punished. You should focus your efforts instead on gently massaging them into moving across to where you want them to be.

I’ve written about Yammer in this blog post, but the advice is just as applicable to other distruptive services such as or Socialcast.

1. Create an account

Create an account in the name of your web management group or whoever is responsible for collaboration (or your intranet).

2. Social media policy

You need to have a social media policy in place to refer to (This article from The Next Web, amongst others, can give you some tips).

3. Talk to information security

Take some advice from your information security department, or check your security policies. It could be the case that Yammer falls into the same “open” security classification as regular public social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

4. Regularly post updates

You need to visit Yammer regularly (with your Web management account) and post some kind of update explaining what you can do here (and where you can do other stuff; the official platform).

Here’s a suggestion for the recurring update:

Please be aware that Yammer and this Yammer network
is not supported, maintained or approved by YOURORG. 

If you publish information on Yammer it must be 
information that is classified as "Open Information" 
according to YOURORGS's information rules. 

You must treat Yammer like any other Internet 
social network - such as Facebook and Twitter. 
Please read our social media and internet policy. 

Please also make use of our supported collaboration 

5. Follow everyone

Follow everyone who joins. This makes your “Web team” account more visible, and increases the chance of people reading your updates.

By dealing with the non-official networks in this way we are educating these enthusiastic social workers rather than banning, closing down, or saying naughty naughty. It’s a mature and friendly way of managing disruptive collaboration tools. A gentle touch rather than a heavy hand.