#YearofYammer: Yammer as a Platform for the Value of Community


At Microsoft Ignite 2019, the Yammer product team has debuted its updated product strategy. This strategy focuses Yammer on its core roles, redesigns the user interface and mobile experience and improves integration across the Office365 suite, including SharePoint, Outlook and Teams integration patterns.



Bringing the Outer Loop to Life:  Yammer as a platform for Community

The Yammer community advocates are passionate advocates of this new product strategy because we have always seen Yammer as a way to connect communities enterprise wide. Much of the debate around Yammer in the wider tech community has been due to lack of clarity of how it plays a role in Microsoft’s Collaboration Strategy.

The Yammer team’s discussion in 2017 of Inner and Outer Loops of Collaboration clarified this role but we are now seeing the product roadmap and integrations focus us all on the potential of these use cases. I am excited we can now begin to accelerate the conversations about the leadership, change and community potential of Yammer.

Core to Yammer’s updated product strategy is an clear statement on Yammer’s core use cases:

  • Communities
  • Sharing Knowledge
  • Leadership engagement

Yammer Use Cases.jpg

Photo credit: Amy Dolzine

These use cases align perfectly with the Value Maturity Model (seen above and explored on this blog) and highlight why the focus on adoption of Yammer as a platform for collaboration in community has always been a journey of focus on connection, sharing, solving problems and innovation.

Year of Yammer

Realising the Value in Community

Strong adoption support will be essential to help any organisation realise this value of collaboration in community. The Value Maturity Model and its supporting practices offers a roadmap for community managers to begin to leverage this new Yammer focus, particularly as it becomes more widely available to the organisation through other Office365 integrations.

Here a few key reminders for community managers planning to leverage this new Yammer product strategy:

  • Focus on value in your strategy: Yammer is just a tool to fulfil your strategy. Understand the value you want to create and align your plans around that value. Employees should be engaged in and aware of this alignment. Here is your chance to engage employees directly in alignment to strategic value creation.
  • The best engagement is action: Employee engagement is often the responsibility of employee communications or HR teams. There can be a tendency to see the challenge of employee engagement as one of better communication and employee experiences. It isn’t. Employee engagement is a tool to leverage employee’s capabilities into value creating action. Employee engagement is how you leverage discretionary effort and hidden capabilities to create surprising value. Give your employees the chance to do things to add value. Don’t just talk with them.
  • Employees are leaders too: Leadership engagement is deliberately vague.  Leadership is work. It is not a title or a role. Any employee can lead and given the chance on Yammer they will. The higher tiers of value in the Value Maturity Model represent the distribution of leadership, change and innovation that is possible in community. Make that a part of the plan for community in your organisation.

I am very excited about this Year of Yammer. Let’s create some value in community together.


One thought on “#YearofYammer: Yammer as a Platform for the Value of Community

  1. This is a very interesting blog entry from several standpoints. Managerial, legal and even historical issues are at play here. Allow me to explain.

    As much as we would like to believe that workplaces – especially large ones like institutions (corporations, schools, hospitals, etc.) are socially dynamic locales, in reality they are frequently filled with dysfunction, physical isolation (i.e. cubicles) and abuse. This is why the study of Enron’s sadistic and corrupt corporate culture is standard case-study material in managerial education programs. The truth is that mediocre executives, administrators, managers – who typically make up the overwhelming majority of leaders in corporate America – don’t want employees talking. To be frank, nobody likes a smart-ass.

    Yes these new social apps promote just that: employees using their words, utilizing language and ideas to solve problems, ease tensions and progress. If you would have proposed introducing something like Teams (with Chat) and/or Yammer to the executives and managers at Enron in the 1980’s, they would have not only laughed at you, they would have fired you. Immediately.

    Corporations are fascinating institutions. They do a lot of things, some good, some bad. Some do REALLY bad things (ever heard of Purdue Pharma? Wells Fargo?). Employees know, at least some, when there are really bad things happening. If you encourage them to talk, they’ll eventually talk – and type – about these issues. From a public policy perspective, that’s an amazing thing. From a corporate perspective, well, not so much.

    Then there is the use of Yammer as a workplace organization tool for job actions and unionization. One would think that a company could quickly fire an employee using its network (and pre-populated contact lists) for even discussing workplace rights. But if they did that, the corporation would certainly be sued for millions and lose. Some executives might even find themselves indicted. This is because in 2015 the National Labor Relations Board ruled that companies and institutions are NOT sovereign over their own networks. Employees maintain a FEDERAL right to use those very networks to discuss workplace issues, personalities, policies, culture and eventual unionization without penalty. As long as they do this when they are not under ‘company time’ they can talk about whatever they want. And the same NLRB has ruled time and again that breaks and lunch constitute non-working hours.

    It will be interesting to see in the near future how Yammer and similar apps affect the workplace, from schools to corporations to hospitals to other large institutions.

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