by Marc Wright
We caught up with the dynamic Dennis Agusi when he was in London last week to tell us about Philips’ latest social media activity inside the consumer electronics, healthcare and lighting giant. Philips have been in the forefront of social media and we have covered their Connect Us platform before. But now they have taken the platform which is run on VMware’s Socialcast to bring to life the company’s new, refreshed Mission and Vision. The Philips All Employee Jam was a global online crowd-sourcing activity designed to create dialogue, discussion and debate about Philips’ Mission and Vision.
“We wanted to use crowd-sourcing so we could see how colleagues are bringing the Mission and Vision to life in their part of the business. We wanted to encourage creativity inside the company to get some great stories from around the globe.”
To get the creative juices flowing the Comms Team produced a ‘Lip Dub’ video (see below). This is where colleagues mime to a popular track in one continuous take, and the result is impressive with thousands of downloads to date.
Philip’s new Mission is:
“Improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation.”
And their Vision:
“At Philips, we strive to make the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation. Our goal is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025. We will be the best place to work for people who share our passion. Together we will deliver superior value for our customers and shareholders.”
The challenge as ever was to make the messages memorable and sticky, so Agusi and the Internal Communications team created an booklet. This is a highly visual and interactive pdf that captured the best of the 390 stories that were submitted as part of the Jam. One of the selection criteria for selecting a story in the booklet was the amount of likes and comments that each gathered on Connect Us as part of the All Employee Jam.
The booklet works like a clickable brochure with icons that allow readers to focus in quickly on the stories that relate to their part of the business or their chosen topic. Almost all the photography was user-generated.
“We asked people to send in photos to represent their stories. I like the way that the images were real; you could see the very different standards of a hospital in Nicaragua compared to one in a more developed country. You would not show that in conventional push communications but it added a real authenticity to the booklet.”
The pdf is available as a download on the intranet or it can be viewed online and even with an iPad. Senior adoption of the initiative was critical and Agusi has spent a lot of effort to get the senior execs at Philips into the community and active online.
“We assign a buddy from the internal comms team to every member of the ExCo team (the Philips Executive Board). They are there to answer their technical questions and to help them to get used to the tools. These Digital Buddies had regular calls with each other to share their experiences and compare the online experience of the different leaders in the business and to use peer pressure to get them all using the tools.
“The difficulty is that you cannot talk a senior manager into using these social tools. They have to discover it for themselves. People have to experience the social aspect visibly and frequently. If the Internal Communication team is seen to be pushing them too hard, then we run the danger of building resistance. We need to be there to coach them but not to post on behalf of them.”
Agusi has a number of techniques to build online participation. They had a viral launch where contributors to the interactive booklet could see their work before it went live and check it out. And he used old-fashioned email pushes to get it virally kicked off.
However he does have one word of warning for those subject experts who are thrown into the limelight by these new tools.
“We have someone at Philips who has posted extensively about mobile phones and how to connect them with email, Connect Us and other business applications. He has become extremely sought after and has spent a great deal of time posting tips and guides for colleagues. While he has saved others a great deal of time and effort, his own social workload has increased by his new status as ‘the’ mobile expert. So for the people who have specific skills and abilities, social media means that they could end up becoming more visible as ‘the expert’ – and it will add to their workload – although their effectiveness rises dramatically. It will also help them to build up their own online personal brand and climb up higher in online status.”
Gamification and beyond
Next on the agenda for Agusi and the Philips Internal Communications team is to use the techniques of gaming to drive adoption of social tools even further in the organisation. Socialcast has a Thanks Badge function for employees. The Badges are sent in recognition of behaviours connected to the Philips values and its business transformation program, “Accelerate!” They help demonstrate better understanding of the behaviours as the badge-giver has to include a description of why they are awarding it. They also limited to just 5 a week to encourage uptake.
Agusi is also keen to connect more people to a bigger more integrated platform.
“There is so much work that goes on in disparate channels. People are using these tools and also email, instant messaging and other business apps and sometimes it can be hard to collaborate because the tools don’t talk to each other. We are working on this, finding ways to integrate communications and knowledge and to reduce meeting time. The first step that we have already taken is integration with our intranet. It drives traffic and conversations around intranet articles that we have never seen before. Integrating tools with each other is one of the most powerful ways to connect employees.”
Agusi is a walking example of a Generation Y communicator who has seen their career accelerated by the arrival of Connect Us at Philips. But is clear that he and his colleagues are at the beginning of a journey and that there is plenty of change ahead.