May 11th, 2014
As a child I dreamed of being in the centre of the hustle and bustle of a newspaper office, breaking stories across the world, interviewing important people and going to exciting places all in the name of journalism.
While my chosen career hasn’t been quite as fast paced or glamorous, last week I did get close to the buzz of communicating news live to thousands of people when I blogged live at Grant Thornton’s partner conference.
We launched Jam (a Jive platform) in March and to date have 65% of our people signed up. While there has been a lot of positive activity taking place, we felt people were still struggling to see the value especially as our partners hadn’t engaged with it.
The partner conference presented a fantastic opportunity to give people an insight in to what takes place behind closed doors, encourage partners to participate on the platform and to show people the power of Jam at enabling information sharing and collaboration.
We promoted the live blogging aspect on the event in advance through Jam, the intranet and our email channel and set up a group dedicated to partner conference updates that people could follow.
A group of eight of us went along to the conference, set up at the back and furiously typed, took photos, wrote status updates, set up polls, replied to comments and invited questions that would be put to the partners.
Throughout the conference partners were reminded that conversations were taking place on Jam at that moment. Due to the mobile ban during the sessions, we found many of the partners coming up to us in the breaks to find out more about Jam and more importantly what people were saying about them! We had set up stalls in the coffee areas so that we could talk to partners about Jam and social media in general and were able to advise, organise follow up meetings and provide hand-outs on things such as how to maximise your LinkedIn profile.
The number of followers on our group increased as the day went on and we had a higher than normal readership on the blog posts. We also received number of insightful questions that were put to the partners including how we can work more effectively internationally and why don’t we have more female partners (as of today we have had 41 responses to this particular question).
We relayed the responses to these questions immediately and I feel overall we were very successful in creating a ‘live’ atmosphere. We were publishing blogs within 20 minute of sessions finishing and status updates and photos appeared as the sessions were taking place.
The one thing that was still lacking was the partner participation. We did a poll towards the end of the first day to find out what people thought of the output from the conference and while they said they were enjoying it, they wanted to see partners contributing to the conversation.
Then something amazing happened. We all went back to our rooms before the drinks reception in the evening and comments from partners started to appear. For the first time, people at all levels across the business were having their voices heard by the most senior people. And it has carried on throughout the weekend as partners have taken the time to write thoughtful and considered answers to people’s questions.
I think those two days saw us make excellent progress in breaking down barriers and demonstrating how we can use Jam to collaborate with colleagues at all levels and that everyone’s opinion or idea is as equally important as the next.
For me personally, it was a truly exciting, exhausting and rewarding experience and I would strongly recommend others consider this approach to engaging their people in their own organisations.