#MSIgnite Day 3: Loops, Change and Platforms for Digital Transformation

Day 3 at Microsoft Ignite was again focused on the role of collaboration in the Modern Workplace and the changes required to support people to engage and be more effective on these platforms. I had two talks leveraging the Value Maturity Model on the day

Connecting the Inner and Outer Loop


George Box famously said “All models are wrong. Some models are useful.” The more time that I spend with the idea that the Modern Workplace has an inner loop of high velocity focused conversations and outer loop of discovery and diversity the truer Box’s maxim seems. The two-loops model undoubtedly works to explain the position of the products and helps organisations and users understand the connected roles of the two tools in the Microsoft365 ecosystem.

I spent time at the Yammer Booth in the Expo hall talking to people about their questions and views. It was clear from these conversations that the commitments demonstrated to the Yammer roadmap and the new position have reassured many customers. The focus of customer questions was mostly how and why Yammer might coexist with Teams in an organisation. Discussing the two patterns of work and their interactions helped these customers to address their questions.

The intuitiveness and simplicity of the approach also belies some complexities. Firstly, We work in context and our context will come from both loops. A critical question that will need to be addressed in the ongoing evolution of this approach is what are the interactions and patterns of the connections, interactions and exchange of information between the two loops. Over time this behaviour can shape the product features ad change required for business success. These answers will be found in the working behaviour of people in effective digital organisations.

Second, these loops are complex networks compromising multiple overlapping subnetworks and stretching to the edges of the organisation and beyond. As Teams get larger and more active, I can see a teams user overhead issue that other chat products often experience. This could take the form of the forgotten channel or be the challenge of managing growing numbers of channels and messages.  Dynamic group membership, integration and community management tools may help ameliorate this, but the jury is out for some time. Growing maturity of practice in organisations using both Teams and Yammer will surface new challenges and opportunities of this approach.

Changing Work Interactions

Much of the day was listening to customer case studies of the journey of changing interactions in the workplace to support Yammer adoption. I heard case studies from both Diageo and GSK. I also heard Scott Ward’s advice on the tips and tricks of using gamification to build new habits and sustain change, engaging rewards and aligning them to intrinsic motivations.

As the community management and change adoption of collaboration platforms is a strong and mature discipline, it was not surprising to see consistency across the conversations about what it takes to deliver effective change and the business value that leaders expect.




Yammer collaboration involves new ways of working so a key part of each of these stories was communication and sense-making. Creating and sharing stories across the organisation is a key opportunity to reinforce and build on this success.


Executive engagement remains a key topic of conversation and as ever varies from the amazingly active to the distracted and busy leader focusing elsewhere. Making a case for the strategic value of collaboration matters to engage these leaders. Executive leadership can accelerate a collaboration and cultural change but it is not the only way. Great leaders make the investment to achieve their target culture for the organisation.  Clearly it is harder without the support of hierarchical power and authority, but good progress can be made by those well aligned even in the absence of investment and  If you cannot win a leader first time, another opportunity comes up on the transition of their successor. Whatever you do, don’t get disheartened by the swings and roundabouts of executive support. Have a strategy, deliver value and they will always come back. The point of my Breaking Down the Value of Yammer Post session was to show executives and users how you can find value and uses in a single post. 


Strong executive sponsorship at Diageo


Showing the value of re-engagement at GSK

Community Management played a critical role in all these case studies. Lesley Crook outlined some key roles that community managers play as stewards of business value in their networks.


Platforms for Digital Transformation


Scott Ward, Cai Kjaer and I presented on Yammer as a Platform for Digital Transformation.  There is not an organisation in the world that is not at least considering its digital disruption transformation. The forces of change are irreversible and the evidence that new business models present opportunities and threats is clear. 

The point we wanted to emphasise is that digital transformation is more than replacing your processes with new digital wiring. The opportunity is to transform business models to deliver to customer needs in new ways, reorganising the way they work and creating a digital culture. This culture demands new transparency, new accountabilities, new agility, new leverage of customer insights and new collaboration organisation wide. We need to balance the focus & speed of inner circle agility with a wider awareness, alignment, & diversity of thought in the outer circle. 

If you are going to stand up stakeholder groups for each part of your digital transformation initiative, connect those streams in Yammer to help cross-stream awareness, build collaboration and deliver cultural change. Organisations that share a common context in the outer loop of collaboration are more effective in all their work. 

Digital transformation is not a technology problem. Digital technology and process change is easier with new cloud applications. The part that takes work is the customer insight, business model experiments and culture change. Yammer can help with all of that. 

Most importantly of all Yammer can help you identify the Change Agents and communities that will make all change possible. 


Three Closing Questions:

What is your strategy to use collaboration to fulfil your digital transformation journey?

What investments in community are you prepared to make to have better customer insights, better employee autonomy and new levels of change? 

What culture do you want and how do your people connect in new interactions?

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