Our enterprise social networking story so far – Purpose, communication, and comfortable shoes…

A while back we were approached by the Danish tech site/newspaper “Computerworld” who would like to know a little more about our Yammer journey. Although Yammer plays an important role we were much more interested in talking about the bigger picture and how we are trying to change the culture in Grundfos through the Global Working Culture initiative. The result was a great article which was published yesterday and I think that it provides some good insights on what we have learned so far. For the international audience, I have made a (somewhat automated) translation – see below.

If you prefer the original article in Danish you can read it here: http://www.computerworld.dk/art/227272/saadan-vil-grundfos-tjene-penge-med-globalt-samarbejde

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How Grundfos will capitalize on global collaboration

Grundfos bets on using social technology, but the big challenge is to change the culture. Hear how one of Denmark’s largest companies tackle the process and get sound advice along the way.

At the pump manufacturer Grundfos it is a desire from management to create a virtual global collaboration between the many departments that are part of the company’s business.

“The overall objective of Grundfos is that we must be able to work as if we’re under the same roof, although in practice sites spread across the globe,” says Thomas Asger Hansen and Martin Risgaard Rasmussen, who both, along with a small team, works with Grundfos’ social business strategy and implementation.

“We assemble or produce Grundfos pumps in more than 50 countries. This is the base of our business. If we are to improve our ability to grow, it requires a well-functioning virtual collaboration. Nobody can travel around as much.”

The purpose is as clear as the vision.

“What we get out of it, is transparency. Employees find out where knowledge is, and then they can share it in an easy way. We see it as a great asset to be able to create a collective intelligence in Grundfos.”

But technology alone is not enough.

“It’s about a new culture. Individual employees are drawn into the new context and we have chosen to do with the program Yammer, a social tool, which is produced under the Microsoft’s umbrella.”

The company has completed a trial period with Yammer, where 5,000 people have registered. The experience with the most productive usage areas must now be spread throughout the company.

But it is the goal that justifies the means. It is not so much about the tool — it’s about moving people.

“It is mainly about pushing people’s understanding and creating a new culture. This is not about tools. We will connect Grundfos in a new way. Actually, we prefer not to talk about the platform, but very much like to talk about culture,” says Thomas Asger Hansen and continues with a concrete example:

“I got a visit from a head of department, who said that his department needed Yammer because they did not talk enough together and were less good at sharing knowledge. This problem is not solved by a piece of software. It’s the culture that first and foremost needs attention. A software can only support the change – not make it happen.”

The traditional company
Grundfos is like other manufacturing companies characterised by being silo-divided.

A company that has grown by mushrooming of production and sales companies which, despite the same brand and the same values to some extent have behaved autonomously.

This is what Yammer will help to change.

“The close link and the “we-feeling” that is the understanding that we are a single Grundfos has not previously arisen through the IT systems we use. This, we focus on in this project,” says Martin Risgaard Rasmussen

“And it works. Project has made it possible for Grundfos to move cooperation skills through social technology. Initially, it reached out to many of the employees, and it provides the basis to talk about opportunities in the social world.”

And visibility is one of the crucial points for success.

“If it makes sense for employees, it does not really matter. If you do not have a purpose and people who are, eager to make it happen, it does not happen.”

Failures are part of the development
But starting a social trend also has a history attached to it. And it is actually hampering the process.

“People are very familiar with social services like Facebook, but they have been brought up, not to mix Facebook and work. People have previously been told that they should not spend working hours on the social media, but this is now OK. ”

The mental learning curve is much steeper than the practical. It takes in other words, time to change the culture.

“It requires communication about that one must work in a different way than, for example via e-mail. E-mail is far from dead, but it’s a closed process, whereas the social universe is a more open process. It requires mutual trust – even if it is behind a firewall,” says Martin Risgaard Rasmussen.

And it doesn’t succeed every time.

“The failures we’ve had have all been because there has not been a clear purpose or a lack of openness, honesty and trust. We must just learn first,” says Thomas Asger Hansen.

“There is a challenge in the fact that there are several subcultures, if you will. They can be anchored in both differences in management or even the use of certain tools and platforms, as some employee groups may have a very passionate relationship.”

Can be a virus
Currently we do not measure directly on whether the project is profitable development processes or productivity, but it will do in the future.

“We are going to measure the maturity level, as known from software development. We will also measure on a number of external parameters which we are in the process of defining. But it is not at all about monitoring employees we trust people. ”

If there is no confidence in the framework, it can actually be counterproductive to introduce them.

“If social tools are not implemented properly, it can figuratively be a virus that employees are trying to get rid of.”

Not a new Facebook
Yammer has been tested in the context of global events in Grundfos. And this technology has brought an extra dimension to the relationship between colleagues.

“It’s a bit like meeting ‘old’ friends, when you stand face to face after a virtual project. That’s a great feeling,” says Martin Risgaard Rasmussen.

But Yammer is not supposed to be a new Facebook within the company’s four walls.

“It is 100 percent a work tool, and it is also envisaged that it should remain so. But it is not possible to avoid the emergence of non-work related conversations, and it’s also ok. Sharing knowledge across the lunch or coffee machines can be extremely valuable to the company. Now we also have a virtual coffee machine. ”

“It is our goal that everyone who wants to participate in a Grundfos community can get involved. This means that there must also be room for the more private things, just like when you talk together for a lunch.”

“There has to be both a personal and a business object before Yammer creates value,” is the experience of Grundfos.

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Five tips for starting an Enterprise Social Network

A clear purpose:
You must have a solution that both make sense for the company and for the employees. Remember to plan what you want with the technology. If you just throw it out there without a plan, the project is almost doomed to failure.

Dedicated resources:
There must be some people who have the responsibility to drive things forward and make sure that actually happens.

Clear communication:
It must be clear in its communication about what the platform can do and what it can’t do. A social service is not a silver bullet that can solve everything.

Spread the word:
It is important to tell the stories as they arise. It pushes the culture towards that it is ok to use the tool, and that it actually makes sense.

Comfortable shoes:
When you begin, put on some comfortable shoes and walk around and talk to people. Be prepared that people will tell you how poor the selected platform. Many would consider it a waste of time, but take the constructive dialogue. The result is that people will become more aware of the project, no matter what.

Digital Workplace consultant at Grundfos

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Posted in Barriers and challenges, Culture, Reflection
3 comments on “Our enterprise social networking story so far – Purpose, communication, and comfortable shoes…
  1. […] Frog Recruitment video Gatwick Airport case study and case study Grundfos case study and article GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) overview Hill & Knowlton overview Janssenn and NHS Confederation Mental […]

  2. Our enterprise social networking story so far – Purpose, communication, and comfortable shoes…by @Risgaard

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  3. […] Frog Recruitment video Gatwick Airport case study and case study Grundfos case study and article GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) overview Hill & Knowlton overview Janssenn and NHS Confederation Mental […]

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