Aligning a distributed team around common goals is harder than doing it face to face. At my company Pollenizer, our team of 70 people is distributed around Australia, India, US and Europe. Each quarter we define themes and goals to support our ‘one-site strategic plan’ (http://www.pollenizer.com/a-one-site-strategic-plan/) and then use various tools in our daily work to make these goals a reality.
Yammer (http://www.yammer.com) is an important tool for us. It is a communications platform, very much like Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) but all communications are limited to our business. We send a few hundred messages per day between us and these messages provide an ambient view of what is happening across the teams. Here are some examples:
“Hi guys, back online. Working from home today. Almost finished going through emails. @mick will call soon to figure out priorities.”
“Very interesting approach to help “brew” businesses http://unicornfree.com/2010/ti… #businessmodels #startups #customerdevelopment”
Messages like this pop up on our screen throughout the day as low-interruption, pulses of news that keep us aware of the team’s daily rhythm. You might be wondering why some of the messages have strange words like #this. These are called hash tags (http://philmorle.com/index.php/twitterers-an-introduction-to-tags/), a simple way to categorise messages so that we can find them later in related clusters.
To stay focused on our goals, we have a scoreboard that we track with our one-site strategic plan. Here’s what we are tracking this quarter:
|Numbers to watch||Oct||Nov||Dec||Target|
|#fixed Create a process to fix something permanently.||10|
|#pitchedin Someone else stepped in on someone else’s project and helped out.||50|
|#unblocked How many times someone unblocked someone else’s blocked.||20|
|#numbers How many times someone shared a number or result on Yammer||20|
|#goteam Our team approach made a massive difference to a project||10|
To celebrate progress in a goal, we share it on Yammer with the hashtags you can see above.