CONNECT. SHARE. TRANSFORM.
Did you know that UNICEF achieved a phenomenal increase in online engagement and knowledge sharing in Yammer—more than 500 per cent from January 2016 to March 2018? Our network grew from 1,000 participating members per month to more than 5,600 per month during that time - representing more than 46% of all UNICEF staff. There wasn’t a magic overnight change, but rather a slow and steady effort that facilitated this growth.
This adoption milestone represents a shift in the way our teams are communicating across the globe. Well-managed online communities have become a valid, productive method for performing work at UNICEF, helping to drive faster and better results for children.
As Forbes online magazine described it when profiling UNICEF in early 2019, “People who share work-related interests or passions not only learn from one another but also empower one another to perform better. The exchange of diverse ideas fosters trust among employees and encourages them to think and create in new ways.”
Ours is an exciting story about continuous learning and evolving our network for a purpose, with quality and simplicity.
How We Got Started
UNICEF’s journey to become a networked organization started in 2008 with a very early instance of Yammer. Initially, the quality and use of communities at UNICEF varied.
In 2016, a revitalization initiative was set in motion that empowered communities and their leaders, resulting in a surge in participation. Part of our strategy was bringing in support from a variety of external, private sector perspectives. Our extended team included corporate social strategist Carrie Young from Talk Social to Me, social network analyst Patti Anklam, and community manager Sue Gemmell. Under the internal leadership of UNICEF’s Paola Storchi, the reactivation clarified the community’s purpose and value: acting on shared knowledge. We have used two main strategies: first, gathering evidence to demonstrate communities’ far-reaching potential, and second, developing a simplified model and way of talking about communities, called BUILD, to help communities realize their promise. As a result, communities on Yammer have become one of the most effective means to unblock and accelerate the flow of “living” knowledge, across locations and organizational hierarchies.
The BUILD team conducted three annual global surveys and interviewed hundreds of community members at UNICEF. The findings informed a series of case studies and revealed why people join online communities at UNICEF. People come to Yammer primarily for the purpose of learning. More than 67 per cent reported that communities enhance knowledge exchange across UNICEF, and create a more connected organization. Seventy per cent of respondents valued being part of a community with a clear purpose and relevance. Users want content to be work-related and high-quality. We shared the results with all of UNICEF.
Through participation in communities, UNICEF staff are reporting better quality of knowledge, greater collaboration and more productive working relationships, more innovation, time-saving gathering information on work products from other countries and regions, and development of important relationships with colleagues and partners whom they would not otherwise have met.
The immediacy of communication fosters rapid knowledge transfer as well as contextual dialogue about answers to common problems. For example, more than 1,000 WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) practitioners and partners collaborate online, 24/7, regardless of distance or time zone, to share questions and lessons across sectors to achieve access to water and sanitation for all children.
How We Created the Change
The BUILD team distilled eight steps to harness the power of ‘living’ knowledge at UNICEF to explain the process that revitalized the UNICEF Yammer network. These are:
All these steps helped our program to thrive. The BUILD model has been officially recognized as innovative and successful by many established digital work communities. Which one of the eight steps resonates best with you? If you’d like to connect with the BUILD team and learn more, we’re always happy to help. Contact Paola or Carrie with your questions!
An innovator and collaborator, Paola turns new ideas into action and builds networks across diverse groups and cultures. A natural connector, communicator and team-builder, she leads online communities at UNICEF. With 15+ years of broad international experience, and a strong aesthetic sensibility, including ongoing practice in Japanese fine arts. A native of Rome — Italy—she works at UNICEF New York.
Carrie Basham Young @Carrie Young is the CEO and Principal of Talk Social to Me, a boutique consulting firm specializing in employee community engagement strategies. With more than a decade in the realm of internal collaboration and communication, Carrie offers practical community lessons and experiences from hundreds of F100 and mid-market organizations. Find Talk Social to Me on the web at www.talksocialtome.com.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.