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How To Build A Social Intranet

In this document, we have collected and compiled the most important experiences and lessons learned from the last six years of our award winning social intranet. With it, we want to give inspiration, courage and confidence to people who face similar situations at their companies, and sometimes obstacles and challenges: "Keep going! It's worth it."

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How To Build A Social Intranet

  1. 1. YOU AND ME LESSONS LEARNED Alexander Derno September 2018 FROM CORPORATE SOCIAL INTRANET TO THE HEARTBEAT OF DEUTSCHE TELEKOM
  2. 2. OVER HALF A DECADE YOU AND ME Over five exciting years of YAM – Time to take stock In YOU AND ME, an ecosystem for collaboration and knowledge sharing, has been created over the last six years, at Deutsche Telekom. Today, it's difficult to imagine daily business at Deutsche Telekom without YOU AND ME. More than any other communication platform, YAM represents the heartbeat, the moods, the ideas and the diversity of one of the world's leading telcos. In this document, we have collected and compiled the most important experiences and lessons learned from the last six years. With it, we want to give inspiration, courage and confidence to people who face similar situations at their companies, and sometimes obstacles and challenges: "Keep going! It's worth it."
  3. 3. "At first we thought it would be a relaunch for the Intranet. Instead, it became a relaunch for the way we work together in the company. With YOU AND ME we did pioneering work. We tried a lot, constantly discovered new things and discarded some of them. The result was a co-creation platform that became the heartbeat of Deutsche Telekom - and a project with passion." ALEXANDER DERNO, "YOU AND ME" PRODUCT OWNER UNTIL 2017
  4. 4. From heterogeneous beginnings to a co-creation network In the time before YOU AND ME, there were different applications, such as department intranets, wikis and collaboration platforms, where various communities were organized. There were no blueprints or role models for a new corporate social intranet; only the idea that all of these communication channels should be grouped together under one roof. We realized quickly that we were talking about a transformation project, one that would turn the employees themselves into communicators and would change our role in Corporate Communications into that of moderators and coaches. Today, more than five years later, we talk about a co-creation network in which more than 120,000 employees worldwide create content, share information and knowledge on a daily basis, and generate new ideas every day. Where will we stand in five years? We don't know. All we know is that we will have far to go on our journey. ON THE WAY TO A WORKPLACE ECOSYSTEM
  5. 5. YOU AND ME LESSONS LEARNED We are talking about a product The development of a corporate social network does not work like a conventional IT project. It is more comparable to the development and launch of a new product. 1 The team is always the most important thing Flexible structures and the right team philosophy are the foundation for successful product development. 2 We are empowering employees Employees aren't just the future customers; they're also the most important advisors during the development phase and can help to make the product successful. 3 We are delivering a communication framework By guiding instead of regulating, we enable creativity and flexibility. This applies to both the creation of content and the enhancement of the application itself. 4 We need a strong brand To become a strong, successful brand, it must communicate at eye level, be credible and pleasant, and must reduce complexity. 5 We will measure success Measuring and communicating success are essential for a co-creation network like YAM. But this also means sometimes leaving the figures aside and listening to your feelings. 6 In the end, you can't succeed without perseverance A project like this can't be implemented simply through the rote processing of project schedules. It requires passion and a willingness to explore new paths. 7
  6. 6. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A PRODUCT Not a typical IT project with start and finish The development of a corporate social network is not a typical IT project with a defined start and finish. Instead, we have to see its development like that of a product that has to take root in a free market and work according to the rules of the web. That means the work starts in earnest with the rollout. Without active people, it's nothing more than software. To become a product, it has to have content that is relevant for others and attracts people to return again and again. LESSON 1
  7. 7. WE'RE ALWAYS IN COMPETITION Because the biggest fish always wins The most popular platform wins. To establish our product sustainably on the market – that is, among Deutsche Telekom employees – we had to think about future growth of our platform from the start. In doing so, we used the following recurring life cycle: How it can work 1. In the beginning, it was about building a critical mass, from which point the number of users and awareness of the platform would begin to grow exponentially. 2. In the second step, we concentrated on increasing employee activity. After all, to fill a platform with life, we need employees who create, share and comment on content. 3. In the third and final step, the increasing networking among employees helped to accelerate growth and quality further.
  8. 8. CONSISTENT DEVELOPMENT FROM THE EMPLOYEE PERSPECTIVE And what do the users say? We used a variety of tools, such as usability tests and user surveys, to optimize the user experience. This was completely uncharted territory for internal IT projects. In addition, we gave employees the opportunity to express their own wishes on the platform. In the end, it even became a public process, with fact sheets and feedback. How it can work
  9. 9. THE TEAM IS ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING More than just empty words The team takes on one of the most important functions in the project. The project managers see themselves as product owners, who feel responsible for the entire environment. Communication was one of the most important tasks of the leadership role. Since processes and roles changed constantly, we relied most on relationships on the team. Face-to-face meetings and personal talks were crucial elements. Respect and appreciation for the – sometimes competing – goals and ideas was our top priority. LESSON 2
  10. 10. PEOPLE NEED RESPONSIBILITY We never cared about organizational charts The team structure wasn't based on complicated organizational charts, but instead on responsibilities and sensible interfaces. No one was to be able to withdraw to performing isolated tasks; cooperative thinking was encouraged. The tasks at hand were always the focus of our regular meetings. Everyone on the team was asked to think about which information might be relevant to others' work. The meetings also provided a place for handling items to be clarified. Everyone involved was encouraged to ask questions and make comments. How it can work
  11. 11. BRING THEM ALL TO THE TABLE Everyone has a voice and a face We established a regular meeting, to ensure ongoing interaction among all project team members. We wanted to ensure that all stakeholders who have an influence on how the product is perceived are essential parts of the project. Even those who usually have low visibility in such projects, such as support, testers and community managers. In every meeting, we made it a ritual to begin by asking how people felt on the project, how things were going and what perceptions were like among the employees. To advance the project further, we always asked what we could do better and what was going well. While these meetings tie up capacity at first, the personal interchange they foster is worth it. How it can work
  12. 12. COLLEAGUES ARE THE BEST AMBASSADORS Supporters direct from the heart of the company From its inceptions, YOU AND ME was a project by employees for employees. That's why it was only natural for us to search for suitable supporters from the heart of the company at the start of the project. Thanks to an ambassador program, we were able to quickly find colleagues who volunteered to support our project as YAM guides. They helped answer questions from other colleagues about the reasoning behind the project, as well as about individual functions. And above all, they infected others with their enthusiasm for YAM. This was very well received, because there were no orders from above to use the program. Instead, the employees showed one another how practical and fun YAM could be. How it can work
  13. 13. WE EMPOWER EMPLOYEES The employees do it themselves We had an ambitious goal with YOU AND ME: we wanted to enable direct interaction between employees across national borders, to enable an optimal transfer of knowledge. We previously had a number of different tools, and not everyone had access to them. With YAM, all employees can simply get started, make their voices heard and interact with others. The platform has also made a major contribution toward creating an open corporate culture. LESSON 3
  14. 14. SUPPORT FROM EMPLOYEE TO EMPLOYEE Employees help one another Employees can help one another through the internal "YAM Support“. Moderated by two colleagues, YAM Support compiled frequently asked questions in documents that can be used repeatedly. The number of conventional support tickets was kept low by addressing the simple issues here. At the same time, this gave us an honest indicator of how things worked and were being used. How it can work
  15. 15. BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS AND CRITICISM A culture of open dialog As the product owners, we were always open to – and grateful for – suggestions and constructive criticism. Our new platform served as the foundation for this interaction. No matter how unpleasant it was, we never shied the debate. We saw it as an opportunity for establishing mutual understanding. How it can work
  16. 16. WE ARE DELIVERING A FRAMEWORK Utilize the strengths of social media Openness was also the guiding principle when it came to establishing the usage guidelines. We tried to strike a balance between guaranteeing security and stability and giving employees orientation, while at the same time granting the maximum possible freedom and creativity. LESSON 4
  17. 17. APPLICATIONS WITH A MODULAR ARCHITECTURE Deliver flexibility away from rigid regulations YOU AND ME was designed as an open, modular system that concentrates on services and features that add value for employees. The foundation for this flexible design of internal applications is Group Works Agreement 2.0, which no longer regulates specific programs like wikis or blogs, but instead describes functions, like those for profiles, commenting, publishing and editing. As a result, the GWA no longer has to be supplemented for every new application and services and functions can be continually recombined, making work much easier. How it can work
  18. 18. WE PROVIDE ORIENTATION Describe "How," not "What" Our Human Interface Guideline (HIG) created an additional point of reference for the development of social media applications within the company. The HIG is the conceptual foundation for ensuring that Deutsche Telekom's social media applications are designed homogenously, in high quality and user-friendly. It contains principles, guidelines, use cases, patterns and lots of inspiration for developing successful designs. Here, as well, our goal was to create a flexible framework instead of trying to imagine specific situations. How it can work
  19. 19. A SOCIAL INTRANET NEEDS A STRONG BRAND Be accepted as a brand and communicate authentically Strong branding was essential to success. The logo, two speech bubbles, is a metaphor for the different perspectives that are unified at Deutsche Telekom. A strong brand doesn't only mean awareness. It also helps to reduce complexity. The colleagues automatically know that YOU AND ME is a platform for employees. It encompasses dozens of different applications, projects and initiatives. The name shouldn't be too technical, either. That's why we decided to change the name from Telekom Social Network to YOU AND ME during the branding process.. A good brand name gets the customers involved at an emotional level. It is pleasant and works with different cultural backgrounds. LESSON 5
  20. 20. EMPLOYEES AREN'T USERS That was one of our first basic principles One of the most important principles for communication is that we do not talk about platform "users" in any context. For us, they're all Deutsche Telekom employees, which means they're our colleagues. In addition, we also avoided technical wordings in our communication. We intentionally chose everyday language, to make the technology secondary and instead focus on the people, their work and their activities. How it can work
  21. 21. OUR COMMUNICATION WAS ALWAYS PERSONAL Authentic communication at eye level YOU AND ME isn't a product that we could simply enforce on the organization from the top down, commanding that all 225,000 employees start using it overnight. Although we grew quickly at first, we were still small, which meant our possibilities were limited. Since we felt personal contact with our colleagues was worth much more than information flyers or social media instructions, we held hundreds of presentations about the intention and handling of YAM. After all, communication also lives from the persons behind it. As such, the developer team members became important multipliers at the company. What's more, we used the platform extensively from the beginning ourselves, to show our work to our colleagues openly and respond directly to questions and criticism. How it can work
  22. 22. STRONG BRANDING THROUGH SIMPLICITY The brand belongs to everyone Our employees played a major role in the development of YOU AND ME. We wanted to continue this consistently in other areas. That's why we decided to focus on simplicity in our branding efforts. Instead of delegating responsibility to a branding team, every employee who wanted to express their opinions of YAM was given templates, empowering them to put designs together themselves, without requiring graphic artists or long coordination processes. How it can work
  23. 23. WE MEASURE SUCCESS AND SCRUTINIZE KEY FIGURES The right feeling has more weight than data analyses Everyone who develops a product of course wants to know how successful that product is on the market. Accordingly, we thought about the right key figures and how to measure them. We needed these metrics to help us understand how our product was used and to point out the strengths and weaknesses of our platform. We calculate the net promoter score once per year, for example, and have also introduced the "activity index," an engagement rate measure we developed ourselves. By measuring these key figures, we can now derive and implement targeted measures for improving YOU AND ME on an ongoing basis. Nonetheless, we have never been slaves to these numbers and always listened to our feelings in cases of doubt. LESSON 6
  24. 24. UNDERSTANDING THE PRODUCT BETTER NET PROMOTER SCORE Find the right measurements The net promoter score is normally used in the marketing domain. We hadn't applied it to internal IT projects before. Since we had adopted the product mindset in our platform, however, we needed more than a simple key performance indicator; we needed a measurement that helped us to better understand how our product was perceived. That's why we selected a representative group of employees once per year and asked them a question: "How likely is it that you would recommend YOU AND ME to a colleague?" In addition to the net promoter score, we also carry out a driver analysis. The feedback from the free text fields was particularly valuable to us here, to understand how the platform is used and how we can improve it. How it can work
  25. 25. MEASURE THE UTILIZED POTENTIAL ACTIVITY INDEX Measuring activity The activity index is an engagement rate that we developed ourselves, which enables us to compare different groups with one another and with the overall base. In addition, the activity index was also conceived as a strategic index, similar to TV ratings, to serve as an established measure that everyone can use as a guide. This number had to be simple and plausible, as well as have a certain level of complexity. In fact, it expresses the utilization of the content potential. The simple figure represents a calculation of different content categories and their acceptance over a specific period. How it can work
  26. 26. LESSON 7 IN THE END, YOU CAN'T SUCCEED WITHOUT PERCEVERANCE How we became the heartbeat of Deutsche Telekom At the start of our journey, we never had a single destination in mind. We simply knew that we had to try out a lot of different things. We learned from our mistakes and reinforced the things that were working well. That's how we evolved continuously. And all with the ongoing vision of promoting collaboration across borders and boundaries and of connecting everyone together. That isn't possible without passion. After all, there are no requirements that must be met, merely those that have to be avoided or created anew. It is rare for us to understand everything at once. And the larger you get, the more political it becomes within the company. Ultimately, YOU AND ME is a reflection of the changes within the company and, at the same time, a driver of those changes.
  27. 27. FLAT HIERARCHIES START WITH A NEW WAY OF COMMUNICATING Tim's Base – A direct line to the board Today, flat hierarchies and open forms of communication have virtually become normal expectations that employees have of their companies. It was important to us to create an environment that enabled open, authentic dialog across departmental boundaries and national borders. This commitment to cultural transformation and, ultimately, to reducing hierarchies, was supported by the entire Deutsche Telekom Board of Management from the beginning. Our image was given an incredible boost by the widely acclaimed and award-winning dedication of CEO Timotheus Höttges, who uses "Tim's Base" not only to give Deutsche Telekom employees insights into his everyday work, but also a place where they can submit their ideas, questions and suggestions directly. How it can work
  28. 28. WE WERE A TEAM OF GENTLE REBELS Willingness to change can be achieved without shoving What kind of team does it take to implement an ambitious project like this? In total, we bring more than ten years of experience with digital transformation to the table. Despite this, much of it was unexplored territory and a constant learning process for us, as well. At some point, we arrived at the model of the "gentle rebels." We wanted to do new things and strike out in directions that no one at the company had ever taken before. To do so, we had to shake some things up and question the establishment. At the same time, it was important to us not to be pushy or act like a bull in a china shop. We were aware of the responsibility associated with winning people over and accompanying them through a transformation process, particularly at a large, diverse company like ours. It's only possible at eye level and with a spirit based on cooperation and respect. How it can work
  29. 29. ▪ 74.9 billion euros revenue in 2017 ▪ 216,000 employees worldwide ▪ Footprint in more than 50 countries ▪ CEO Timotheus Höttges ▪ The leading European TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER ▪ Social Media Pioneer at Deutsche Telekom, Expert Corporate Communications and product owner of YOU AND ME until 2017 ▪ With Deutsche Telekom since 2005 ▪ 124,000 registered Telekom employees ▪ 1,160,000 employee generated contents. ▪ 30,000 groups in the network September 2018 YOU AND ME IN FIGURES ▪ 105 million Millon page impressions per year ▪ 11,000 employees follow CEO Tim Höttges ▪ 54,000 discussions have been held in YAM. ABOUT THE AUTHOR ALEXANDER DERNO DEUTSCHE TELEKOM CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS ▪ Enabler of new forms of communication and co-creation companywide ▪ Content Factory as an ecosystem of all Deutsche Telekom‘s digital content ▪ Publication of content on all widespread platforms, from Corporate Blog to all relevant social media channels

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