So what comes first?
Well, it depends who you ask. You take the two companies represented at this breakout as a for-instance.
What came first at American Express Global Business Travel?
The answer: Jive.
Full disclosure: Two of the three speakers leading this session were from Yahoo. I’m from Yahoo. So you won’t be surprised to hear this was my favorite breakout session out of the eight I attended.
The two Yahoos in question are Christine Arnould, Yahoo’s Enterprise Community Manager (a.k.a. the Godmother of Jive @ Yahoo), and her rah-rah-in-crime Ashley Wolf, Community Manager for Yahoo’s engineering org.
Joining Christine and Ashley was Bridget Clark, VP of Internal Comms at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), not to be confused with American Express. Let me explain. Or rather, let me recap the way Bridget explained it.
Bridget gave us the bio-in-brief of the American Express corporation, going all the way back to its founding shortly after the Civil War. GBT was part of AmEx for the longest time and indeed became its largest unit. And then in 2014 AmEx sold it off. Bridget said they took that opportunity to hit the reset button on how they approached internal communications and knowledge sharing.
Here’s the rub: Given how old and storied and established this company is, you’re talking about a fundamental cultural shift of tectonic proportions. That couldn’t happen first.
No. First, they needed Jive.
In the pre-Jive era at GBT, knowledge and content were shared via email. That meant when someone left the company, their knowledge left with them.
In pondering how to give the culture a nudge, Bridget said they considered these four issues.
• Mindset – strive for a balance between a legacy company and an Internet startup
• Communications dynamics – cut down rates of death by email
• Collaboration – down with silos!
• Transparency – sharing is, after all, caring
With Jive providing both the spiritual impetus and technical framework, Bridget said they did five things to change the culture at GBT:
• Memos to blogs from day one (what used to be emailed would instead be published as Jive blog posts)
• Instituted an ambassador network to drive Jive adoption
• Planned and planted discussions
• Continued outreach
• Saved some sizzle for the second release date
GBT’s instance of Jive is called UConnect. It went live in September 2015.
Before UConnect, the closest thing they had to a knowledge / content hub was SharePoint. Rather than gently coax people over, Bridget said they executed the migration with the rip-off-the-tape method. She did emphasize that she and the other Jive ambassadors are always happy to hold people’s hands until they warm up to the platform.
As Yahoo’s Sales and Marketing Community Manager, that sounds all too familiar to me.
Now it was time for Christine and Ashley to step up.
What came first at Yahoo? Culture or Jive?
Christine got us in the mood by holding her lav mic to her phone while she played the yodel. Love it!
Christine and Ashley, both of whose tenures started in the summer of 2014, just a few months after Jive went live at Yahoo (April 2014), did a yeoman’s job conveying the culture of fun, openness, and sharing they found when they first arrived. What with quarterly hack days, the Yahoo Employee Foundation, the company’s annual birthday party every March (Yahoo’s 20th birthday in March 2015 was their first experience of that), dogfooding, Friday all-hands and quarterly goals all-hands and the way so much of those company-wide meetings are driven by user questions, etc., etc.
With Jive already bought and implemented when they arrived, Christine and Ashley didn’t want to use it to change the culture the way it was changed at GBT. Instead, their mission was to improve the culture and make it more efficient.
Christine used the phrase “silos of excellence.” In other words, what she saw was a landscape of super smart and talented people everywhere, but who were cut off from each other. What she wanted to do was harness the already open and fun culture and knock down the silos of excellence to make the culture of sharing more efficient.
Enter Yahoo’s instance of Jive: the Yahoo Community.
The obvious challenge was taking the content from its previous homes (Wiki, Google Docs, Salesforce Chatter, ilists) and moving it over, a challenge they acknowledged they’re still working on today. And whereas GBT went with the rip-off-the-tape method with moving from SharePoint to UConnect, Christine and Ashley, as I know from personal experience, modulated their approach. They approached people the way salespeople would, wowing them with Jive’s obvious advantages…while informing them of the sunset date for their old content home.
Another parallel with Bridget’s spiel was the theme of hand holding. Again, I know from experience that once you help someone stand up a brand new space, you’ll need to stay by their side, virtually speaking, and act as consultant and tech support. This is a good thing, as it gives us community managers a chance to continue promoting the power of Jive.
So to recap: When Christine and Ashley arrived at Yahoo, the right culture was already there. They simply used Jive to improve it and make it more efficient via sharing, engagement, and innovation. Exhibit A: The dogfooding space on Jive has been terrific at capturing user feedback and improving our products.
The best part came at the end when they called out the cluster of fellow Yahoos sitting near the front, including yours truly.
I was very proud to be a Yahoo.