Hall & Wilcox Launches Yammer Memorably: With Cupcakes, Contests and Education

We have discussed the importance of adoption events to the success of enterprise social network adoption a few times. A successful adoption event informs users of the benefits of using the ESN, models desired behaviors, increases awareness and establishes a call to action. An example of a really creative launch came to my attention, and I just had to get to know the company that made its own Yammer shirts (and sent me one!), and baked Yammer cupcakes. That company was Hall & Wilcox, a law firm in Melbourne, Australia. I caught up with Yammer champions Josephine Murfey and Chris Warburton at Hall & Wilcox, and this is what we talked about.

Maria Ogneva: Thanks for spending some time with us today. Can you introduce yourselves and tell us what you do at Hall & Wilcox?

Josephine Murfey: I am the Knowledge Manager, and I have worked here for 11 years, managing the library and the vast body of knowledge created by our lawyers.

Chris Warburton: I am the Applications Engineer, which means that I provide technology systems to lawyers. I manage the intranet, Yammer, SharePoint, and other systems, making sure that our systems talk to each other. I make sure that the lawyers have all they need, and translate “tech” to English, so the users don’t have to.

MO: Can you tell us a little bit about Hall & Wilcox?

JM: We are a law firm located in Melbourne. We are located in one building but span across 5 floors. We have 240 employees, which includes 120 lawyers and support staff.

MO: How did you discover Yammer?

CW: Our CEO heard Pete Williams talk about Yammer and became immediately interested and inspired by the promise of open sharing and collaboration. So we created the network. People were immediately interested; they signed up and logged in – viral adoption at its best! It got so popular that it caught the attention of the IT manager. As an organisation, we initially struggled with the “open system,” and it ended up being blocked until we could investigate it further.

JM: The IT manager wanted to build our own social network. Since there was such a demonstrated need for a communication platform like this, the IT manager thought that a homegrown network would do well. However, it didn’t have the same appeal as Yammer did, and employees stopped using it, and it was slowing down our entire Intranet load time. We eventually re-introduced Yammer. We attached it to the front of the intranet and re-launched over Christmas. Lawyers aren’t usually the frontrunners of technology adoption, but they jumped at the opportunity to use Yammer, and we are now up to 240 users, which is pretty much our whole company.

MO: How did you get so many users on Yammer?

JM: We had to create some compelling launch events to let people know about Yammer and get people excited. We launched Yammer during Christmas last year, and so we made Yammer lollipops, cupcakes and even printed special t-shirts (see photos below).

Chris even dressed up as Father Christmas!

CW: And I still blame you for that!

MO: Did you fear that a launch before a long holiday break could mean the possibility of losing some momentum?

JM: Yes, exactly! To address this, we created a whole competition that could keep going during the holiday break. We gave all employees custom t-shirts and asked them to take a photo of themselves wearing the t-shirts over the break and upload the photos to Yammer. Having employees upload photos into the mobile interface illustrated Yammer’s mobile power – something that the old microblog couldn’t do. Here’s a copy of the photo I took:

MO: You had Yammer Day a few weeks ago. Can you tell us more about it?

JM: We set up a Yammer HQ room in the office, where anyone could come and learn more about Yammer. We helped employees set up their accounts and even provided hands-on training on the spot. A lot of people didn’t have pictures or want their pictures up, and we had to show them how much more value they would get out of Yammer if they had a clear profile photo. To make it easy for them, we helped users take photos for their profiles right there at Yammer Day. Of course, no Yammer Day is complete without cupcakes!

MO: How are you maintaining interest after Yammer Day?

JM: Education is a key part of maintaining engagement, and we help people set up groups and provide clarity around best practices, best topics and groups to use. To extend learning, we have a 101 group, where educational information is housed for easy access. We are also trying out a reverse mentoring program, where junior lawyers help senior partners become experts in social media.

MO: How do you use Yammer on a daily basis?

JM & CW: We use Yammer to share and find information across the organisation and help people to get to know each other’s expertise. Our Practice groups share news updates, and we have placed Yammer feeds into our intranet pages. We use Files and Pages to collaborate, and Yammer’s robust mobile apps allow us to communicate on the go. Lawyers are traditionally not interested in sharing – they consider their knowledge their intellectual property – but they are starting to open up to the idea. We need to embed sharing as an organisational value, and Yammer is going to help us get there.

MO: What is your usage policy like?

JM: We have an easygoing policy: use common sense and the “New York Times front page test.” The New York Times front page test is basically a check-in you do with yourself prior to posting something digitally: “Would I want this to be on the front page of the New York Times?” If the answer is “no,” you probably should hold off on posting it, or at least rephrase it.

MO: How does your CEO use Yammer?

JM & CW: Our CEO is really hands-on in the process; he responds to conversations often and proactively shares what he’s doing and starts conversations. He’s the one who spearheaded the Yammer effort – he’s one of the main instigators.

MO: What has Yammer helped you do since you launched it?

JM: Yammer strengthened our culture tremendously. We are growing fast, and during a period of fast growth, it’s easy for things to get lost and for that cultural magic to get stale. Yammer has also helped us reduce our hierarchies and smash silos to create a more inclusive and transparent organisation. It’s pretty remarkable when anyone in the organisation is able to speak directly to the CEO. When the CEO asked on Yammer for a Dyson vacuum cleaner recommendation, that conversation generated the most comments we’ve seen.

So there you have it, folks – Hall & Wilcox is at the helm of innovation around creatively launching Yammer across their company. Have you done something similar to launch your ESN? Tell us in the comments if you have!


About Josephine Murfey: Josephine is currently the Knowledge Manager at Hall &Wilcox Lawyers. Josephine has been managing libraries, knowledge and information in law firms for over 20 years and has been working with lawyers find ways to use technology to help them work more efficiently and effectively.  Using research databases, intranet tools and other technologies, Josephine works with Partners and Lawyers to provide the most current information and assist in keeping up to date with the latest developments in the law.

About Chris Warburton: Chris is currently the Applications Engineer at Hall & Wilcox Lawyers. Chris has been working in law firms for 8 years both in Sydney and Melbourne, designing, supporting and advising on both standard and bespoke applications systems.  Working with all levels of the business, Chris is responsible for ensuring that applications are rolled out successfully.