Internal networks – #localgovcamp

Updated (21 June 2009):
I admit I missed the first couple of minutes of this session (having too much fun chatting) but I am really interested in the pilot that Carl Haggerty and Rob Gray were discussing about the internal social network they have set up at Devon County Council with Blue Kiwi (please correct me if I am wrong about this!).

It’s interesting to me both in a professional capacity as we’ll be doing some work around internal communications / our intranet soon (ish) and also because my thesis next year is on the place of social media in local government internal communications.

It was a busy session and there was lots of great information about the reasons behind the pilot, the practicalities of setting it up and where they are now. There were lots of questions around the pilot and about internal communications in general.

I tried to make some notes at the time and I hope @liz_azyan captured some of the discussion on video as well. There is this video with Carl Haggerty and Rob Gray by David Wilcox:

Notes I made during the session (posted 20 June 2009):

  • Great slides by @caralhaggerty – hoepfully these will be shared so I don’t have to make too many notes. I’m having too much fun listening.
  • Lots of really great suggestions backed with practical examples about how to get people internal to the organisation connecting online.
  • Lead by example – great complete profiles including information on where to be found online, cvs, personal information, image, networks, where to find me online, skills etc
  • Manage expectations but encourage people who are unsure to join. There is an optimum number (25-35) where a community becomes self-sufficient.
  • Tell people what eblic engaging allows the system to do for them
  • Coventry use Yammer internally – why not use a system that everybody already in and by default follows each other and then opts out. Saves having to rely on it self propogating
  • Be great not to have to pilot but organisations don’t always work like that – particularly public sector
  • Make them give something up to use social media – so no more emails. @carlhaggerty does this with his team – no more email in their team! Sometimes generates social media envy, hopes pilot breaks down the barriers and answers questions while trying out new systems
  • Great for early conversations
  • How do you measure success?
  • How do you overcome resistence to change? Nurture and support those that do adopt early, suggest people take the question / conversation into the internal network
  • Currently 4 months into pilot Devon CC and Blue Kiwi
  • Try and encourage people to be more informal as well as having social conversations alongside the business questions – change of culture for many public sector orgs perhaps?
  • Fit in with existing internal business strategy – where there is a communication problem – is there a social media solution?
  • Didn’t see a lot of the benefits they have already reaped from the pilot
  • Would organisation see benefit of getting 250 ppl together in a room to talk about issues?
  • It’s not an instant messaging service – is asynchronous. It’s basically a large chat room – tells you to refresh when new information available
  • Will be happy to share the results and lesson’s learned
  • More business conversations – not set out to replace email etc although that could be outcome!
  • Is marketing to council staff based on the interests they put in their internal network profile a step too far?
  • Target people who can help shape it – don’t want it to be an internal version of Facebook but legitimate business tool.
  • Only people with core access to business systems at the moment.
  • Could be used to identify gaps in training by HR to enable more people to get involved
  • Share details and skills – by having this information in the network allows HR and teams to work more efficiently and identify exisiting skill base?
  • Put the network in and let the business evaluate what the benefits are…don’t anticipate how this benefit each individual
  • Users who are engaged and finding benefits encourage others to join and so the conversation widens and benefits and could drive change
  • Middle managers important as they are vital in strategy
  • There will always be those who converse more
  • How much did it cost? Less than £10,000 but not much!
  • Around 100 users is good number for pilot
  • Deliberately seperate from ICT – intranets etc
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