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Friction-Free Collaboration

by Hal on October 10, 2009

in collaboration, design, innovation, tools

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I've just arrived at the PMI Global Congress 2009 in Orlando, FL. Tomorrow AM a number of us who are members of the PMI New Media Council will be speaking in a panel on social media and its impacts on the discipline of project management. Among other things, I'll be talking about my company's experience using Yammer. Our experience has been good. More on that later.

It's great seeing a smiling colleague's faceOur company works with architects, engineers and construction firms along with the clients of those firms. We're a small consultancy…just 12 people all working out of their homes in all 4 US continental timezones or at our clients' work sites. We can get isolated from one another. Many of us have become way too self-reliant going so far that some people reinvent materials because it appears easier than collaborating with peers. While we take great measures to make the company's materials widely available using Windows Live Sync, still we weren't collaborating like we wanted to.

At the end of last year we made a $28,000 investment in high speed high quality video conferencing from Vidyo. Every person has a video conferencing capability from their home office and while on the road. All 12 of us can participate in the same video conference. (The Vidyo service is far superior to Skype.) We have a company-wide 1-Hr video conference every Friday at noon. Many of us are in the habit of having a video conference rather than making a phone call or sending an email. Vidyo's always-ready feature makes it trivial to connect. It's great seeing a smiling colleague's face in the middle of a day, especially when he or she is 1,000 miles away.

We are also using a number of web-based tools to work remotely within our company and with our clients. Two of those tools are Lino-It for online sticky-note planning and EtherPad for keystroke-by-keystroke multi-party document editing. Check them both out.

Yammer has removed the friction of connecting and collaborating inside our firm.Where is this headed? What's going on with Yammer? In spite of all our investments in collaboration, there still were barriers to instant collaboration. There has been no easy way to get an instant answer to a question like you could in an office by standing up and asking, "Did I miss the burrito order?" Yammer has changed that. Working like Twitter, although without the 140 character limitation, Yammer helps us stay in contact throughout the day with everyone else in our firm. We report what we are working on. We ask questions. We announce that we are stuck. We quickly share files we're working on. All of this without knowing for sure in the moment who is available to respond, but knowing that someone at some time soon will be in a position to respond. I yammer from my computer, from my Blackberry and while tweeting by adding the #yam hashtag to tweets that I want to share with my colleagues.

Yammer has removed the friction of connecting and collaborating inside our firm. We're noticing that we are far more collaborative. But even better than that is we're a tighter community. We know more about what is going on with each other. That allows each of us to take (better) care of each other and in so doing take better care of our clients. So, did I miss the burrito order?

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Lean Leaders, circa 2020 | Lean Six Sigma Academy
March 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

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1 Joe Ely October 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I’ll get yours with extra hot-sauce, Hal. And I assume a bag of chips, too.

Thanks for the details, Hal..very useful. Wish this had been available in the mid ’90s when I had a similar consultancy.

2 Rajendra Prasad February 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I am planning to implement your ideas, in India for consultancy services
same as yours;
thank you very much

3 Raleigh replacement windows February 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Great idea, I am not so sure I would use the yammer moniker. But the ability to use twitter and other resources within a small office environment is definitely the order of the day. And more than once it has saved my bacon and in the process gained a long term client.

4 Frank Barnes April 11, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Hi Hal,

As the saying goes-the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know. Thanks for the information shared, i appreciated it. On a piece-meal basis i will be implementing some of these ideas, as our business develop over the next 6 months.

5 Mike Blumenstein September 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hey Hal,
Good to see companies using applications like Yammer to collaborate internally. We found Yammer fell a bit short on the true collaboration side of things, as you can see with this comparison http://bit.ly/9yXO66 we recently did. Moreover, They have always been a bit restricted on what you can do, as it was always coined “Twitter for Business”. We took the holistic approach, and built our collaboration suite from the ground up. We have had a lot more collaboration features, and it looks like Yammer is seeing the light and starting to catch up with their Yammer 2.0.

Take a look at the MangoApps at


6 Sam Kidd October 19, 2010 at 5:38 am

Have you checked out the updates to Yammer over the last month.
They have really stepped up the service a lot. Part’s of it look a lot more like facebook now, I guess so many people know how that works so it helps bridge any learning curves for new users.

7 Shalon MIller December 8, 2010 at 1:26 am

We are happy to announce the Launch of a FREE version of our product ValleySpeak Project Server For, 3 users. A great opportunity for all Professionals wanting to Use a project Management Software.


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