Running a webjam for your organisation can be a game changer. They can literally be the catalyst to your social network’s success. In this post we’ll deep dive into what you need to do to make them successful. We’ll focus on internal (aka inside the organisation) webjams as opposed to external ones. Strap yourself in, this one goes deep…
First off, what is a webjam? Webjams are virtual ‘gatherings’ and to a large extent are platform agnostic. I have predominantly used Yammer to run mine, but there’s no reason why IBM Connections, Saleforce Chatter, Jive or any other enterprise social network won’t cut it. Webjams can be a refreshing alternative to the tried and testing (and often ineffective) teleconference or group phone call.
This is principally because webjams are active formats as opposed to passive – webjams encourage you to participate by interacting, not purely listening. We all learn differently. Many of us find it hard to concentrate if one has to purely listen (me included). The webjam is a more exploratory way of learning.
So you’ve decided you want to try a webjam. Great. Your initial hurdle is going to be explaining what one is to your colleagues. Habit sticks, especially in the corporate world, and people are often perfectly happy with the existing way of things. Well, at least you may think they are.
In my experience many leaders are frustrated with how they reach out and communicate to their teams. So often the best way to get a leaders buy-in is to come out and say it: teleconference calls don’t work. Mention the awkward ‘any questions?’ silence at the end of them. Ask them if they wish their teams were more willing to voice their thoughts, opinions, objections. Most will say yes. Position a webjam as a way to bridge the communication gap.
Remember webjams are not necessarily a substitution for teleconference or any other meeting for that matter (although they can be). They are complimentary.
So we know what a webjam is. We’ve pitched it to management. They are interested. What next?
Ok, two things:
1. Purpose – what is your webjam about? If you aren’t clear no-one else will be either. The more concise the better. What is it about? What are people’s expectations? What learning outcomes do you have in mind?
Some ideas for purpose:
- Senior leader webjam. Position webjam as ‘an hour with X to answer your questions around Y’ where a given topic could be a new strategy, vision, anything they please. Serves as a powerful message that leadership is open and transparent, and leaders genuinely enjoy the interaction.
- Round table discussion webjam. Less hierarchical than the above, can still include senior leaders but the engagement is around a particular topic. The moderator manages posing the questions and timekeeping.
- Live event webjam. That town hall event, the next results cascade, next month’s conference – all these can be opened up for anyone outside the event by throwing a yamjam during and after the event itself.
2. Process – these are the practicalities. who manages it? how do people know it’s even on? how should they behave once they join (the rules of engagement)?
Think of it like you’re organising a party. You’ll need to send invites, book a venue, work through the details so the ‘guests’ can enjoy themselves. That’s your job as webjam organizer, and the better job you make of this the better the outcome. Lets break it down for pre, during and after the webjam…
Before the webjam :
Announce the webjam with as much notice as possible (ideally 2 weeks prior to session) communicate the webjam on your social network (and any other channel for that matter, newsletters, posters, etc) and ask people to ‘like’ it – telling them you’ll send a calendar invite if they do.
Below is the calendar invite I sent to all interested parties (I got around 30 likes from the post). I sent this as a calendar invite, not just an email. This is vital if you want people to remember to join. Make the invite informal, informative, tell them what a webjam is (stress its an online discussion, no phones), include webjam URL in ‘location’ field in the invite. Encourage people to forward on to other interested parties – word of mouth can be really effective here.