Cloud Career Profile: Lesley Crook


At the Microsoft Tech Summit in Birmingham, we interviewed @Lesley Crook, MVP for Office Servers and Services with a focus on Yammer.  Check out our interview below:


Lesley Crook with fellow MVP @Simon Denton and community manager @Anna Chu.Lesley Crook with fellow MVP @Simon Denton and community manager @Anna Chu.




Tell us a little bit about your organization Wolan Ltd. I am an experienced Internal Communications (IC) business partner to IT. Working Out Loud in A Network #wolan is my unique Yammer Adoption Change Management (ACM) framework. Derived from Lean Sigma and combines Working Out Loud principles nurturing digital transformation.  My service offerings include tailored ACM workshops to drive up Office 365 Yammer consumption and adoption.


Can you elaborate on the concept of “working out loud”? By Working Out Loud, John Stepper develops the idea of “circles” to support individuals and communities to develop the skills to “Work Out Loud”.  It combines conventional wisdom about relationships with modern ways to reach and engage people. It's a very different approach to networking, and it starts with three questions: What am I trying to accomplish? Who's related to that goal? How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationship? Investing in relationships that open you up to other people, knowledge, and possibilities.  A 21st-century skill required for the future of work. It encourages you to make your work visible.


Come on down Yammer! The #wolan Yammer ACM framework focuses on visible business outcomes. It starts by decreasing email dependency and helps to position the Yammer business case. It creates governance; enables adoption; aligns to strategies, projects and ultimately business value; highlights success stories; demonstrates your company culture – behaviours and values. Also, demonstrates how Yammer can be embedded into apps, processes, systems and tasks. It raises the relevance of “business intelligent” tags. It is also an ACM template that helps you create your own ACM framework. Yes! #wolan ACM is packed with the right stuff to nurture digital transformation.


You’ve been in communications for much of your career, how has Yammer changed the way you communicate? How has Yammer impacted the workplace? It has radically changed how I communicate. A good example is since awarded MVP I joined a multitude of Yammer related networks and groups. I have connected with the most generous and smart people in an incredibly short space of time.  Barely any emails, we simply monitor apps on our devices for new posts and respond anytime anyplace anywhere. The speed we collaborate is staggering. There is no going back once you’ve worked this way. Search #YammerMagic on Twitter for many more of my success stories.


We should also be mindful that it might not always appropriate for all “command and control” cultures to change. There are also many who want to transform the future of work but often have major network issues, from complex mergers and acquisitions. Unfortunately, in these frustrating situations there is often little MSFT can do – but can focus on the many who do seek and are ready for digital transformational DNA!


So, what can IC working with IT do? Embrace a Yammer ACM that nurtures better employee engagement and advocacy behaviours; instilling the principles found in Working Out Loud.  Aligned to strategic goals, behaviours and values and better serve our customers, markets and employees. For most organisations, an element of hierarchy will likely always exist. So, it might fall on the IC leaders with IT, to at least try and bridge command and control hierarchies, to further develop an open culture. To do so they need to be a change management partnership of advisors, connectors and facilitators, rather than just being those who help push the messages from the top to the bottom. Each organisation is different, with some experiencing greater change than others at different times. Equally in-house business areas will adopt new ways of working at different times depending on the culture of that part of the business.


Yammer will also help to attract and obtain the right talent, who will expect these new ways of working in a forward-thinking company, that emulate the outside world of fast and fearless social networking.  Drop new hires in a 100-day Yammer group, nip the old email habits in the bud and nurture collaboration from the get-go by Working Out Loud in A Network #wolan.


How did you initially come to learn about and subsequently specialize in Yammer? A new GSK CEO took the helm in 2008 with a mantra to simplify the operating model. The opportunity for IT to decommission expensive siloed business tools. GSK had 16 random networks all with different service agreements. And, IT graduates were given a licence to investigate disruptive technologies. One of which was Yammer. It was piloted in 2013 and steadily grew to the sustainable c.80k network of registered users (100k headcount) c.45% active users it is today.


Not sure how I heard about Yammer working in IC, but register I did. At this point I had used Facebook for two years. I was also studying Lean Sigma In-house. Lean teaches us to decrease wasteful ways of working in manufacturing. I applied this principle to decreasing email as a wasteful way of working. The rest is history. I am addicted to Working Out Loud in A Network -- Yammer!


What would you say is your most valuable skill? Why? Over to my former GSK colleague in a generous LinkedIn recommendation: Lesley is that rare individual that can make connections with almost anything. Whether it be through social networking, technology, or communication, Lesley can find a way to connect dots and to engage various individuals for processes or the community to be better than before her input. She did that effortlessly on the GSK Yammer network and now seamlessly with her consultancy, Wolan Ltd, and across all the major social media networks. 


Read more Cloud Career profiles here as we feature IT Pro Careers and Skills in the Tech Community!



1 Reply
Thanks for sharing, Anna and Lesley! Sparked an idea about using your Yammer network as your circle. Not sure the trust is as high network-wide but fun to think of it that way.