Tag Archives: networking

Building an army of ESN champions

I was reminded this week that it was just over 2 years ago that we launched the Hub, our global enterprise social network here at KPMG. Thinking back those early days I remember both the excitement and trepidation that I felt as I tried to imagine what the organisation would look like with everyone using our new social platform.

One topic I kept coming back (and still do) to time and again was that we would need to recruit an army of Champions to help us sell the story of the Hub and to build momentum across our global network.  Yes we had a model for rolling out and driving adoption by country but the total headcount of those resources was tiny in comparison to the size of the organisation.  They could not do it alone. I should also explain that like many other professional service organisations, the one I work for is effectively a network of franchised countries who all use the same branding, name etc. but who are all autonomous in their own right. Each has its own unique culture too (that’s a whole other post..). We have to work through standard deployment steps with each one but importantly once beyond that we need arms and legs on the ground to help to foster, sell and ultimately to drive adoption.


As each country’s Hub journey begins, there is a country lead who takes care of all the deployment steps (Risk, Security etc. etc.) and who works identify the first local use cases who will form the early adopting communities. Local community managers are then identified at the individual Group level (or Subjects as we call them) – these folks get some basic training in their roles and responsible as Subject Managers of those groups and are encouraged to join our Subject Managers network to share experience and knowledge and collaborate around their role etc. And so it goes on in each country and for global /cross border groups where the same Subject Manager model applies too…

Despite all this however what we do lack is a solid network of key individuals who really champion the Hub beyond those Country leads and the global or local Subject Managers.  These are the people who are passionate about social, who get it and who question at every step why others are not using it.  We tend to find that they do exist and are the real social advocates but they are very few and far between. Finding more of them is hard. In short we need to recruit real Champions who can be the extended arms, ears and advocates of the Hub. Who can sell it to others and infect their enthusiasm on others.

At the other end of the scale we are building out Global Community Manager resource capabilities from a central global team perspective but these folks serve a different purpose…

To provide a sense of scale, today we have over 90+ countries live (out of 150), around 1,700 communities and 29,000 active users on the Hub but despite all the process and structure we still struggle to identify a decent number of true champions who we can rely in to sell the story of the Hub to others.  29,000 may sound like a decent number of active user but when you consider we are a massive global network (of which around 95,000 have access to the Hub today) and when you look at the total global headcount of nearly 158,000 you realise we have some way yet to go on our journey.  The Champion role is therefore a key piece therefore that we need to focus on and accelerate rapidly.

So for me one thing I want I want to get out of #ESNanon is come away with practical steps and examples from others around how they have gone about building their army of Champions beyond their central CM resources.

So looking forwards to connecting on this topic on the 21st March at ESNanon




#ESNanon: the Power of Therapy ..sharing our pains and learning from each other.

I am a real believer in the old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved.  In the world of ESNs and Social collaboration I have come to realise that it could not be a truer saying.

How many of us on our journeys to stand up, rollout, foster uptake and drive adoption of our respective ESN platforms have found ourselves wondering “there must be others out there who are dealing with or who have dealt with this exact same issue …… I wish I could connect with them and talk through how they approached things..”?   For me as the lead for ESN in a very large professional services firm this has been a continually reoccurring though along my journey.

Let’s wind the clock back and give an example. In  my case it was soon after we had got our pilot platform technically stood up in 2012. We were engaging with the very first pilot users. We were trying to plan ahead and anticipate how we would approach our major pilot groups and launching. They were globally all dispersed and we thought let’s just switch it on. Our minds were racing with anticipation: What would be a normal rate of adoption, what had we overlooked and might cause us to fail and was our approach right?  Had we got our Governance model right??     After all we were effectively handing a chunk of the organisation a megaphone with our social platform and this presented some big concerns !!!

At the time I thought we could do not do any more preparation. But then through meeting someone who did a very similar role to mine at another large organisation during a coffee break at a social business conference my eyes were opened.  Importantly he had run an pilot ESN, just like we were about to do and who was further ahead with the adoption journey. At that point I realised that the power of conversations with those who were treading the same path in other organisations was what would prepare me the best. For me those 40 mins spent talking with my new acquaintance, listening to his advice was probably the most insightful and valuable time I spent in the whole journey of discovery up to going live.  I took what I had heard to heart and some of those really valuable insights helped us to reshape our approach to phasing pilot adoption rather than just going live with a bang and gave us arguably a stronger start.  It proved clearly to me how successfully implementing social is really all about people learning from others, sharing knowledge including learning from their mistakes, what they would have done differently and what they would def. recommend you avoid.

Fast forwards to today and when I look back at what we have I done I ask myself what has really worked     Well over the past few years I have made time when I could to catch up with my counterparts running ESN in other large organisations plus made time to seek out and meet new ones and to build my network (both those who are further ahead and those in the early stages of planning).   For me all the regular social conferences are good for meeting like people but there is never enough time for user-led networking. I believe we all go to such events not to hear the next vendor led ‘everything was amazing’ case study but more because we ultimately want to interact and hear each other’s stories of both triumph and disaster.  However we all still find ourselves going along as usually this is our priority route to meeting up.

So on to the #ESNanon Event. Well as my fellow organisers @tallpaul75 and @miss_england_19 note, this event is about creating a space where we can come together with far less structure, no vendor agendas and to get deep into conversation around the real major topics and challenges that we face.

So, if that sounds good…and come on, its only £10 !…sign up at our Eventbrite page now and we’ll see you for a really good chat on 21 March!

powerful conversation

And as for me I’m interested in 2 things right now  – firstly to get into what really makes for successful ESN Community Management that sticks and how others have built successful networks of Ambassadors for their ESN platforms.

21 March can’t come soon enough !

Alex Chapel