When the Technology Gets in the Way

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At the local Office 365 and SharePoint User Group meeting this week, the first speaker provided a case study on how his organisation was navigating the migration to OneDrive for Business. The firm has a history of the IT department rolling out new technology without any user engagement and change management processes in place, and the speaker – who is new to the organisation – wanted to take a different approach. In advance of the OneDrive migration, the speaker did an admirable job of visiting almost half the offices around the country, engaging with users on how they store and share files, and looking for the personal business benefits of being part of the migration. Three benefits quickly rose to the top: version history across all file types, access to your files across multiple devices, and no need to use a VPN to get access to your documents. A migration tool was acquired to assist with the migration process, current personal home drives were scanned for naming and file type inconsistencies, and a plan was made to move people across to OneDrive for Business in a phased approach.

Easy, right? Not so much.

While OneDrive is supposed to be one of the easier tools to implement, the reality he portrayed was much more complex. Many things got in the way that undermined the project plan, including current infrastructure limitations, unforeseen consequences of previously great decisions, and even the inability of the best available external tech specialists to provide a way through the problems. For example:

  • Some of the first line users accessed computing resources through Citrix, which offers a secure and scalable way of making corporate information available. But OneDrive as a sync client isn’t supported under this scenario.
  • Other business applications across the organisation were saving files into the user’s current personal home drives, but the OneDrive project team had no control over where those other applications saved their files. This made it more difficult to turn off the home drives after the migration of current content into OneDrive for Business.
  • In the face of many technical difficulties, the best available/premier technical professional resources were brought in to help. Even they, unfortunately, were unable to resolve all of the issues and provide a workable solution to pursue in the migration.
  • With the lack of earlier governance around storing documents of shared interest/importance in a shared drive, some users had many GBs of corporate data in their personal home drives. One long-term employee in particular – who had been with the organisation for over 40 years – had almost 70 GB of data in his personal home drive, much of it of corporate relevance. Firstly, this didn’t easily migrate across to OneDrive for Business, and secondly, much of this data should never have been stored there in the first place. While the data is now in OneDrive, at some point there’s a much larger tidying up task ahead to get the corporate information moved into the right places.

It’s pretty hard to help people on the adoption journey to new ways of working when the current infrastructure and new technology keep on getting in the way. But getting the technology and infrastructure to the point of adoption readiness is part of the overall journey, and it has to be done right to lay the foundation for building new and smarter work practices. Hopefully, once these initial issues related to OneDrive are resolved, bringing the next wave of improvements – such as smarter teamwork and better ways of managing meetings – will flow with greater ease.

In the meantime, be prepared to start your adoption journey: Download our eBook How to create your User Adoption Strategy for Office 365.

Smarter meetings with Microsoft Teams

6th May, Rotterdam
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Do you find yourself frustrated in meetings quite regularly?

Then this workshop is for you.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. We know that meetings are necessary to reach our company goals, be aligned and maintain interpersonal relations, but we don’t always feel that they actually add much value to what we’re doing.

Luckily, there are ways of increasing your productivity by architecting, designing, building and running smarter meetings.

In this workshop, we will discuss 6 ingredients for smarter meetings. Plus, you’ll be walking away with actionable guidelines that will help you architect smarter meetings right away.


What’s in it for you?

  • DON’T’S – Insights to recognize and identify bad meetings based on 4 main characteristics of ineffective meetings.
  • DO’s – 6 ingredients that will help you architect smarter meetings.
  • Actionable guidelines that will help you determine which thing you might want to stop doing, and new habits you want to start doing in order to have more productive meetings.
  • Insights on how the right technology can support you in architecting smarter meetings. We will take a look at Microsoft Teams – where we can practice some of the things we discussed using a demo account.

Where and When?

Date and Time: May 6, 2019, from 9:00 until 13:00.

Location: Silverside HQ, Rivium Quadrant 75/5, Capelle a/d IJssel.

Full program

09:00 Walk-in with coffee/tea & optional breakfast
09:30 Meeting Madness – why we hate bad meetings
10:00 Meeting Blessings – 6 ingredients for smarter meetings
10:45 How to stop hurting yourself – Stop doing / Start doing
11:15 The Smarter Meeting Machine!
11:45 Demo time! – Smarter meetings using Microsoft Teams
12:00 Wrapup & Lunch


Register for free!

Location: Siverside, Rivium Quadrant 75, Capelle a/d IJssel

Hallelujah! Microsoft Teams Praise is here

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A new message in the Microsoft Office 365 Admin Message centre (MC176548) on March 27, announces a new feature: Microsoft Teams Praise. This was on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap with ID: 49172. It will be rolled out to all organisations by late April 2019.

“Praise is a new Microsoft Teams feature that gives users the option to send Praise badges to their colleagues, and we are beginning the rollout starting today. This feature is on-by-default and requires administrator action to disable.”

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Microsoft Teams Praise is an employee recognition tool. Praise enables team members to share a badge of recognition for a job well done. Why not celebrate the success of your team with Praise?

With Microsoft Teams Praise, people will be able to recognize their colleague’s contributions by sending various badges their way, such as “Leadership,” “team player,” and “problem solver” are just a few options. Giving Praise can be done in a private Chat or in a Team Conversation. It will be available for Teams desktop, browser and mobile app.

There is a (for now?) limited list of badges you can add in the conversation or chat, to express your particular type of praise. It would be great if we could create custom badges which could be aligned to the organisations’ goals, values, strategy, vision and mission. Another great enhancement would be to allow organisation rewards: badges that can be given by specific people, such as HR or your manager.

Why a High-Engagement Culture Matters

Every employee needs some motivation now and then. This is why employee recognition should be part of your company’s culture. Acknowledge your staff’s exemplary work, and reinforce particular behaviours, practices, or activities that result in better performance and positive business results. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the Employee of the Year Award handed out by HR. It does not have to be a top-down recognition. In fact, getting recognised by your peers is often a much bigger motivation. What’s not to like about being respected by your colleagues?

Employee recognition makes employees:

  • HAPPIER – which often results in higher productivity
  • WANT TO STAY in your company longer (employee retention)
  • CREATE A CULTURE OF SELF-IMPROVEMENT which, of course, results in higher productivity and better outcomes

How do Employees Become Disengaged?

Even good employees can be disengaged. It doesn’t make them bad employees. It doesn’t make them highly productive and effective either. Some reasons for becoming disengaged at work are:

  • Not getting direct feedback from your manager or peers
  • Lack of socialising with your peers
  • No good understanding of, (or not aligned to) company mission, vision, and values
  • Feeling underappreciated for your work

Back in 2015, I wrote an eBook ‘Improve Employee Engagement Through Recognition & Reward for Microsoft Office 365, Yammer & SharePoint 2013‘. Although some of the content may be outdated (particularly around examples of recognition in LinkedIn and SharePoint), the core message about recognition & reward is still very active.

Read the Microsoft Support Article ‘Teams Praise’ here.

Push for Private Channels in Microsoft Teams

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On March 28 there was a CollabTalk Tweetjam to discuss the requested need expressed by users and the Microsoft Teams community described as the push for private channels in Microsoft Teams. CollabTalk often organises interesting TweetJam discussions. Completely public, for anyone to join in via Twitter and the hashtag #CollabTalk whether you want to tweet, or simply lurk in the background (as I did). 

This particular TweetJam discusses “Do We Need Private Channels in Microsoft Teams?” 

“One of the most requested features with more than 18,500 upvotes in UserVoice has been Private Channels. The idea is to allow Team members to create a secure channel for discussion and sharing that can only be seen by the channel owner and invited members …”

I find the topic very interesting, and would like to provide my insights to the question.

These are the questions that were covered during the TweetJam:

  1. Are private channels in Microsoft Teams a good idea? Why, or why not? 
  2. Do private channels in Microsoft Teams go against the product’s otherwise simple/flat collaboration model?
  3. What are the business justifications for private channels in Microsoft Teams? 
  4. Are there acceptable workarounds for private channels in Microsoft Teams today? 
  5. What are the administration and compliance risks with private channels in Microsoft Teams? 
  6. What will be the impact of Microsoft Teams private channels to adoption? 
  7. If you led the Microsoft Teams product team, what 3 new features would be your top priority?

You can find the whole discussion and answers to the 7 questions by following the #CollabTalk hashtag.


Here are my thoughts on the question “Do We Need Private Channels in Microsoft Teams?”

In general my first reaction would be to answer the question with ‘No!’. Not that I do not understand the need for it being expressed by many. I get it, sometimes you may want to limit who can access some information. And at other times you may simply want to keep a lit on information overload, and therefore limit access to certain topics. But at the same time, I don’t see any problem in creating a separate team for that. In my opinion, a team is just another ‘folder’.

Filing Cabinet

Folder culture

There has been a long tradition of providing granular access to ‘folders’. Ever since humanity started writing we found ways to store our content. First clay tablets, then papyrus scrolls, and we saved them in vases. When paper became common we created bookshelves and cabinets to store. When we started using computers we simply continued down this path of thinking how content should be stored: compartmentalised in drawers and folders. In fact, folders and cabinets are still the common picture we use for icons to indicate we are talking about storing space. 

Most employees love (extensive) hierarchical folder structures. Apparent in most organisations’ massive shared drives. Often with extensive granular access levels, but very often also pretty flat, where the whole Sales department or a whole country has access to the top level folder, and its sub-folders. Often the hierarchical folder structure is not for granting granular access, but for easier ‘topic-based’ browsing. It seems folder structures are the way most people are finding their files (instead of using a search tool). Again, I think this is because our brains are hard-wired to think in folder structures ever since we stored our papyrus scrolls. This is why tagging never really caught on in the enterprise. People don’t understand them, they want folders! Having Channels serves the purpose of channeling information around specific topics or processes. It makes it easy to focus the conversation around a specific topic, as well as organising Files around that topic, or adding even more Tabs to the Teams’ Channel. Some Channels in the Team may not even be of (much) interest to you, but be relevant to other people in the group. And that’s OK. As long as information in there may be seen by others than who are invested in the topic, there’s no harm done. If it does require more privacy, create a separate Team, with different / limited members.

So, do people really need private channels, or is this ‘need’ the consequence of thousands of years thinking in folder structures?

Why would it seem different to create a separate team to provide different people access, than having a Channel in a Team for which we define different access? Isn’t the result just the same? And the pro for creating separate Teams is there is much more clarity on who can access what. It’s pretty straightforward, easy to see who is a member. I fear for much more confusion, as well as complicated member management when we are creating private folders.

What do you think? Private Channels, Yes, or No? Cast your vote on UserVoice. The current status of the Idea is ‘Working on it’.

You can find the recap of the #CollabTalk TweetJam on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/PJ_JEdN8MM8

When Community Types Intersect

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Office 365 offers a broad selection of tools for getting work done, and several of the tools provide different ways of achieving the same goal. Same but different. Different but the same. This can cause confusion without appropriate guidance, which is why we created the Silverside Collaboration Framework. 

Our ebook offers a differentiation between four types of communities – community of practice, project community, team community, and community of interest. At 10,000 feet all of these can look the same, but going down to ground level shows there are differences that can be better aligned with one type of tool in Office 365 than another.

And then there’s the situation that two types of communities overlap, or that two have an interactional pathway between them. Such would be the case when a project community intersects with a community of interest. The community of interest facilitates the wide-scale conversation and interaction with serendipity across the organisation, while the project community does the planning and internal behind-the-scenes interaction work to keep the community of interest running. In the real world, this is a common situation – a smaller group has to coordinate among themselves and then also with a wider group. Issues that the wider group ask about or seek input on may need to be discussed among the smaller group before offering a shared answer to the wider group.

Yammer for collaboration

To this end, Microsoft recently released an integration between Microsoft Teams and Yammer, where a Yammer group or topic feed can be displayed on a tab in a channel in Microsoft Teams. The project community does its behind-the-scenes work in Microsoft Teams, while the wider community of interest uses Yammer to meet, interact, and share resources. For organisations using both of these tools in Office 365, having integration options is a good move.

See our related eBook Silverside Collaboration Framework.