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Deloitte’s Yammer Time

A video interview of Deloitte Australia’s CEO Giam Swiegers goes into some interesting details about how the audit and consulting firm is using Yammer’s tool. While the interviewer Leon Gettler clearly was not familiar with the social networking service, Swiegers provides lots of insights in how half of his 5,000 staffers are connecting on up to 150 conversations daily.

One of his GenY consultants was clueless on a particular project, and an hour after his post he got his answer “it would normally taken us forever to track down.”

He scans every conversation every other day. “About75% of our people are digital natives and this is how they talk to each other, then this is how I am going to get to [communicate with] them.” Good point. But it seems that he does more than just talk, he actually walks the walk, too.

Swiegers has a thick skin, and he also wants to have public debates with his people, because it helps make him more approachable and also airs more diverse ideas within Deloitte. “I would much rather have someone debate me and I then know his views than have him go to the pub and tell his mates,” he said in that wonderful way Aussies have of expressing themselves. In the video he describes the process by which an unpopular policy was aired in a Yammer discussion forum, then brought to the COO’s attention, and quickly changed within a matter of days; a policy that the executive team was unaware was so unpopular by the way.

“That conversation could have created a riot if I hadn’t known about it, because it was a bad policy.”

This to me is the real power of social media: not just flattening the organization (email did that decades ago), but empowering the hoi polloi to speak up and get their views aired and acted upon. It isn’t just having the CEO’s ear (or keyboard), but about having an equal stake in the process to Get Things Done.

“Social media is changing the rules,” he says and mentions that any executive can’t be an effective leader in the future without using it. And while Swiegers isn’t a digital native himself, he clearly has gone native and is firmly on Yammer Time.

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