Value is created in enterprise social networks as people connect, share, solve and innovate together. That value creation is an outcome of the work people choose to do together. Measuring the activity in the technology isn’t a measure of the value created, it is simply a measure of adoption. The value of the adoption comes from the organisations strategy and the work of its teams.
However, the features in a typical Yammer post, or any enterprise social network, can give us a guide as to how people come together in networks to work in new ways. Let’s break down a Yammer post using the Value Maturity Model so see how new organisational value gets created.
Connection brings people in the organisation together often for the first time. That connection can be a simple as the feeling of belonging or recognition when a post gets a like. It might be bringing people together around a topic of current need or ongoing mutual interest like a community of interest or a community of practice. Most directly, connection can be a way in large, distributed or siloed organisations to find the people responsible and get in touch to move work forward.
Sharing lifts information out of its hiding places, makes it findable and directs it to people who need to know. That can happen in the enterprise network through replies that answer common questions for everyone’s benefit, provide links to information or provide documents meeting a present need and saving future time and searches. Shares make sure information reaches the right people whether a group, an individual through a private message or even by taking a message out to email to those who don’t regularly use the network. All sharing is silo-busting. Adding topics, either in a message or later, provides people new ways to navigate information and helps make information searchable. Sharing creates a rich domain for social learning and helps the new employee seeking to learn more. A culture of sharing fosters working out loud to help people achieve personal purposes, bring work to the surface and further increase these benefits. Most importantly of all, this activity helps build a shared and discoverable context for the work of the organisation reducing errors, duplication and improving problem solving and efficiency.
Value creation accelerates when an enterprise social network becomes a way for people to come together to work on solving problems. People can ideate, offer solutions and work together in the thread or in groups to discuss ways to solve work problems with existing or new solutions. Having a way to discuss and work through problems in products, policy or process, either through fixes or hacks, helps the organisation continue to flow for those doing the work. The problems raised in this way are able to be solved not just for one user but for everyone in the organisation. The value of these solutions will increase as the problems that teams tackle increase in value. Leaders, experts and creative individuals can help enable the organisation to move past its daily obstacles and create better experiences for customers, employees and other stakeholders. The benefits here are in work in the network and out in the organisation that continuously and responsively improves organisational effectiveness.
Innovation adds value to the organisation when employees feel enabled and encouraged to put forward possibilities, to seek ways to make them happen and to recruit capabilities and coalitions to experiment and execute on opportunities. Vibrant communities will work well beyond a single post out into the broader organisation to make their ideas a reality and help the organisation to respond to its opportunities. Innovation allows employees to explore ways to better fulfil the purpose of the firm, to radically reshape the processes of their work and to deliver new forms of value.