No one really says November any more. It’s Movember, and it’s not just a catchy name. From 30 ‘Mo Bros’ growing their facial hair to raise funds in Australia in 2003, Movember is now a community of over six million Mo Bros and ‘Mo Sisters’ in 20 countries changing the face of men’s health, one moustache at a time. With more than 280 employees across Melbourne, Toronto, Los Angeles, London, Ireland and New Zealand, the charity has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects, and aims to lower the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030.
To make the required impact on men’s health, Movember needed to act globally. To achieve this, the organisation expanded from its Melbourne roots. ‘In June 2016, our CEO needed to keep the rapidly expanding global team connected and communicating well,’ says David Lang, Movember’s Global Director of Workplace and Cloud Technology. ‘At that pace, a communication platform like Slack was crucial.’
To foster seamless communication across time zones and empower employees to produce global campaigns, Movember’s leadership chose Slack, the secure channel-based messaging platform. ‘Slack has enabled the organisation to expand across the globe and scale our ability to collaborate on and execute projects across global teams from multiple countries,’ Lang says.
From powering the famous Movember fundraising campaign, to maintaining over 25 digital products, to fostering an inspired culture that champions fun as a core value, the entire charity now uses Slack. ‘We’re a relatively small organisation, but this is a global movement,’ says Rachel Carr, Movember’s country director for Asia-Pacific. ‘To accelerate our reach, share findings and scale successful projects rapidly in multiple countries, we take a global approach and bring the brightest minds together across borders in Slack.’
‘Slack is the heartbeat of the TechMo team. It’s the glue that holds everything together: our digital headquarters where we communicate, share knowledge and take action.’
Unlocking productivity, camaraderie and agility from anywhere
When Movember brought its tech in-house, leadership rallied everyone (and every integration) around Slack. ‘You name the app, we’ll try to hook it into Slack,’ Lang says. ‘We love how everything works together in Slack.’ This includes the GitHub app, Jenkins, New Relic Alerts and Movember’s OpsGenie, which handles incident management and operations management.
With both communication and its business-critical tools interconnected, the Movember tech team is uniquely poised to tackle any issue, whether they’re in the office or at home. ‘Slack allows us to collaborate regardless of traditional hard boundaries or borders, internally and externally,’ Lang says. ‘That means we’re all effectively working inside one platform, securely and confidently.’
Whether it’s smaller details or big-picture strategies, everyone stays in the loop via Slack channels, digital spaces to share messages, workplace automations, tools and files. ‘Slack enables a really keen organisation-wide awareness of key initiatives, events and partnerships, from coordination to actual execution,’ Lang says. ‘So, say, a developer will have constant visibility and can understand what we’re doing as an organisation without having to sit in 55,000 meetings.’
This translates to the lighter side of Movember, a charity that loves a good media stunt (see: The World’s Highest Shave Down on Sydney Harbour Bridge). For example, a bot automatically scrapes Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for Movember mentions, then shares social updates in
#mo-social. ‘Slack brings out the playful side of the work we do,’ Carr says.
Slack also gave Movember the agility to pivot during the pandemic. While many companies scrambled to find a solution, Lang was confident in Slack. ‘During the pandemic, I was the most relaxed tech guy. We didn’t have to lift a finger to scale Slack,’ he says. ‘It was ready to go.’
‘From a tech perspective, we deploy code straight from Slack, and all of our alerts and monitoring are plugged right into the platform.’
Successfully running a hairy global campaign, remotely
The concept of Movember’s biggest campaign of the year is simple: participants around the world grow moustaches during November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention. It’s wildly successful, and during the 2019 campaign, close to 400,000 Mo Bros and Mo Sisters around the world took part.
In 2020, things looked a little different, and Movember shifted its process. ‘We had to deliver an entire global campaign that’s famous for bringing people together sociably, across multiple time zones,’ Carr says. To execute strategy across Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore, Carr worked with teams around the world in a web of Slack channels. ‘Slack is a great way to bring global cross-functional teams together to share ideas and learnings, keep everybody informed, give quick feedback and celebrate success,’ she says. ‘It also keeps everyone connected from a time-zone perspective.’
Before, Carr’s inbox would be overflowing with a never-ending stream of requests, updates and information. ‘Slack has a really positive impact on the amount of email I receive,’ she says. ‘Especially in Movember, Slack really cuts through all the long-winded emails.’
‘When we need to rapidly respond to something, we know exactly who’s going to tackle it, and it can evolve quite organically and very quickly in Slack.’
The IT team makes every minute count in Movember
November is an especially critical time for the TechMo team. A majority of Movember’s revenue is raised during the first four or five days, which means that five minutes of downtime could cost more than a month’s worth of downtime at any other time of year. ‘Slack is a vital tool that goes beyond communication and disseminating information. It creates space where everyone can exist, play and know exactly what’s going on,’ Lang says. ‘The most critical and current information is at hand for whoever needs to use it.’
When Lang and the team need to loop in stakeholders, they don’t waste time looking for old emails or briefs. ‘With Slack, the history of our content is searchable,’ he says. ‘Someone can join the channel, see what’s transpired and get up to speed faster.’
‘In Movember, we use Slack to create mini-communities, share resources and broadcast information that impacts the whole team. It’s especially great for quick responses.’
Bringing programmes to market faster to combat the pandemic
In addition to the hairy campaign we all know and love, Movember’s work didn’t slow during the pandemic, with the organisation launching innovative men’s health programmes including both Movember Family Man and Movember Conversations (MoCo).
Built on feedback from real men and what they’re struggling with, Movember Conversations is an interactive online conversation tool developed with an international team of mental health experts. Using simulated conversations to explore and practice how anyone might navigate a difficult conversation with someone that they care about, it presents a number of relevant scenarios including job loss, social isolation and family pressures. In light of the pandemic, and with the help of Slack, the team was able to accelerate its launch. ‘Given everything that the men we serve were facing, it was so important to bring that tool to market as quickly as possible,’ Carr says.
Relying on the core
#moco_team Slack channel and global channels to launch the programme internally helped the team to understand and adopt the tool. ‘We wanted to build internal confidence so that we could swiftly reach more men, right when they needed it most.’ Once launched, teams shared local and global coverage of how the new product was embraced by the media and the public in the
#mediacoverage channel. To celebrate such milestones at the office, a ‘gonga-line’ was once initiated by, you guessed it, a gong, which was swiftly followed by a conga line. ‘This year, we took those celebrations virtual in Slack,’ Lang says.
At the heart of Movember is a determined team striving to make a big difference in the lives of millions of men around the world. For Carr, Slack drives and supports not just the processes, tools and technology needed to realise this goal, but also a culture that values fun, part of what makes the annual campaign so successful. ‘A brilliant tool and resource, Slack connects us, helps us do important work and inspires us to have fun along the way,’ she says.