Sharing outside means first sharing inside

Part of our work with Big Lottery Fund (BIG), on People Powered Change, is to help the organisation explore how they can be more than funders, and how they might help the groups that they fund share ideas and experience. We all agree that involves telling stories, opening up conversations, and in doing that saying what worked and what didn’t.

It can be difficult for people to have that sort of conversation with BIG, without fearing they may not get a grant next time around. There has to be some degree of trust. So perhaps BIG staff have to learn how to encourage open conversations … and while they may well be excellent at that in their personal lives, it’s different when representing the organisation.

The BIG CEO Peter Wanless leads the way in openness online through his Twitter account. He recently explained to John Popham how he does that. But how to spread some openness and sociability through BIG or any other large organisation?

While at the Developing Solutions Camp in Gravesend today, talking about how technology can be used to improve local communities, I met up with Tom Phillips, who worked for many years in local Government, and with community and voluntary organisations. I posed the challenge to Tom – how can an organisation become more sociable?

His response was that you can’t be sociable outside, if you aren’t social inside … so the place to start having open conversations is inside the organisation.

Tom is a big fan of Yammer – as I am. It is a bit like private Twitter, without the limit of 140 characters. You can create small or large groups around specific topics, and also create online communities that go outside the organisation. Here’s an explanation¬†of Yammer, and how it can be used.

Tom says that the best way to introduce Yammer is just to get started, and then see who joins up. Encourage the enthusiasts. If you try and impose it, people may well resist.

Our friends (and clients) in BIG are keen to experiment, so there’s a fair chance they may be prepared to have a go. And the beauty of something like Yammer is that, if it would be easier, we can just set something up and invite people to join, including partner organisations. Offer opt-it. People Powered Change can work within organisations as well as outside.

2 Comments.

  1. Totally agree with the above post, but yammer isn’t mainstream enough yet. I introduced it to our group, but because we have limited internet access (due to being rural) we have found that when we do have access its limited to the urgent tasks we need to do, and folk don’t want to install and learn new stuff. Yet.
    People powered change is happening, but slowly. A bit like getting internet access to them. The future is coming, it just isn’t here yet.

    I agree it would be great to be able to engage with funders, I am finding that they haven’t a clue about the limited availability of the internet to rural areas and they believe the government is going to fix it. What they don’t realise is the important role they could have in truly bridging the digital divide that is growing even wider. There will remain a third of the country with far less access than the rest, due to geography, and it will not be fixed by the current government strategy of patching up the copper phone network. If we could use yammer to talk to funders socially we could educate them to the needs of the people they are there to help.
    Until then, we just use public twitter, or emails, and the majority are silent. (the majority of rurals that is).
    chris

  2. And here’s the session Tom ran at LocalGovCamp in June on the use of Yammer in local government http://youtu.be/LcC5PvGotHc