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.