Shifting Desks Every Few Months: A Cultural Practice for Collaboration

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Our PACE methodology offers a structured approach for guiding practitioners on how to motivate and equip their people to collaborate more effectively using modern tools. PACE has four phases – Prepare, Activate, Capitalise, and Enhance – and eight streams of work across the four phases. I love it when I’m reading a magazine and stumble across an idea that just so perfectly aligns with what we’re trying to do with PACE.

In November 2018, I headed across from my office in New Zealand to the Silverside world headquarters just outside Rotterdam. My flights were with Air New Zealand to London, and then KLM from London to Schipol. The Holland Herald was one of the back-of-seat reading sources on offer on KLM, and as I usually do, I flicked/skimmed/ read the magazine. Bregtje Knaap’s article starting page 66, called Man on a Mission, tells the story of Henk Jan Beltman’s journey of creating chocolate 100% slave free. One of the sections of the interview talks about how his chocolate company – called Tony’s Chocolonely – treats its own employees. Here’s a snippet:

“At our Amsterdam headquarters, we want members of our team to show up as the best version of themselves. That’s why we don’t stick to conventions and keep a playful office policy: we maintain flexible working hours, provide a free lunch and, most importantly, work as one team. Every few months, we have an office lottery and shuffle desks… Working with Tony’s should be great fun and put a smile on everyone’s face. When everyone shows up happy at work, and ready to give everything they’ve got, that’s when great things will start to happen.”

Nice work Henk and Tony’s.

The culture and behaviour stream in the PACE framework, during the Activate phase, is focused on embracing new guidelines for team collaboration. Henk’s practices and guidelines in the above quote – especially for me the idea of shuffling desks every few months to create the conditions for creative collaboration – speak directly to the culture and behavioural practices that, one, provide the underpinnings for collaborating more effectively using modern tools, and second, create an awesome company culture.

PACE Streams

Are there any specific cultural practices that you enact in your team/department/organisation to make team collaboration a reality?

Download the PACE Whitepaper to know more about cultural and collaboration practices. 

Learn how to create the best Office 365 User Adoption Plan

7th June, Rotterdam
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Are you looking for best practices to ensure a better outcome for your Microsoft Office 365 project? Learn how to create your own user adoption plan resulting in maximum adoption of your Microsoft Office 365 platform, using our PACE methodology. 

This workshop is intended for anyone responsible for implementing Microsoft Office 365 / SharePoint. Are you a project manager, IT- manager, change practitioner, trainer, or IT professional who needs to ensure a succesful adoption? Then this workshop is for you!

The workshop will take place the 7th of June 2019. The location is Rivium Quadrant 75/5 2909LC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. 

About the workshop

The world is changing. The nature of work is changing-organisations, tasks, roles and business models. Markets are changing. But you know this. You hear it every day. You live it every day. You probably struggle with the relentlessness of it every day.-the magnitude, ferocity and complexity of it all. 

At Silverside, we have developed a way to make change happen. Happen well. Happen appropriately. Happen in the right direction, for the right reasons, and with the right outcomes. This struggle was the genesis of our PACE methodology-a structured approach for guiding practitioners to motivate and equip their people to collaborate more effectively using modern tools. 

The PACE methodology is based on one key insight: adoption of modern tools is not about one thing. That’s because there are multiple things that work together to create the context and cadence of change. Pulling together the insights across those items is essential in getting going, making progress and achieving the right outcomes over the duration of the change initiative. Starting is not about any one of those factors (and other related factors or elements); it is about all of them. It’s about developing an understanding of each factor individually, and at the same time being able to see the interrelationships and dynamic between them all. 

PACE model

The PACE methodology is designed to be applicable to any collaboration platform you may implement, however, the technical acumen will be specific to Microsoft Office 365. 

Workshop Agenda

This workshop is intended for anyone responsible for implementing Microsoft Office 365 / SharePoint. Are you a project manager, IT- manager, change practitioner, trainer, or IT professional who needs to ensure a successful adoption? Then this workshop is for you!

08:30 Walk in with coffee or tea

Part I: Setting the stage for the User Adoption Approach

  • Start building the best user adoption approach for your own project, based on your culture.
    4 cultures and 18 strategies explained.
  • Explanation of the PACE User Adoption model for implementing Microsoft Office 365.
    What activities, templates, and strategies do you need to focus on, across 8 streams.
10:30 Break

Part II: Current situation and your ideal situation

  • When to use which Office 365 app? Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Planner, Forms, OneNote, etc. ?
    Faster decision making with our collaboration framework.
  • What are the rules of collaboration?
  • Find your 'Why' and start building a communication plan.
  • How do you find the right ambassadors?
    Examples of customer ambassador & champion programs.
12:15 Lunch

Part III: Creating your User Adoption Plan

  • Start small and scale up.
    • Which productivity scenario's and user groups are you targeting at first?
    • How and when are you scaling up?
  • How, when & what do you communicate?
  • What is your project approach to combine 8 streams to enlarge the scope & scale?
  • KPI Dashboard for successful user adoption.
    What is the ‘cost’ of a high user adoption success rate for Office 365?
15:15 Break

Part IV: Implementing your User Adoption Plan 

  • Create your user adoption strategy mix!

  • Learn about the top 8 productivity scenario’s worldwide.

  • What will you do to make adoption happen more broadly and widely?

  • Divide your budget across all phases and streams.

17:30 Drinks and Bites


Buy your tickets here

Microsoft technology

Top 3 Benefits of attending

  • Create your user adoption plan for Office 365 & SharePoint in your organization by using our PACE methodology
  • Measure  the probable success rate of your user adoption strategies, based on our benchmark 
  • Learn from companies like Omron, SES, Kawasaki, Attero and others in the market, know where to improve your adoption and how to save time and make the change easier

This workshop in your organisation?

It’s possible! We also organise a personalised workshop for your organisation. To request more information about your in-house workshop, click the button below. 

Collaboration and Difference

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We’ve been working on a few new ebooks here at Silverside, and so far Sasja is winning the writing streak!

collaboration in Microsoft Teams

Sasja has drafted three ebooks that are almost ready to go; I have written but one. Last month I read through and commented on her three ebooks, and then last week I saw this comment in our Teams workspace for the ebooks:

Sasja: So funny how we are very different and in my opinion complimentary. I may be fast, but you are very precise and thoughtful. Can’t be fast and very thoughtful.

To which I responded—after changing in my head the spelling of “complimentary” to “complementary”—see what she means, i.e., “precise” ;-):

Michael: But Sasja, that’s the very nature of collaboration. You and I ARE very different, and because of that, we have the basis for a productive working relationship. If we were just clones of the other, there would be very little space for collaboration.

In the PACE methodology, one of the eight streams is called Culture and Behaviour. This stream focuses on exploring, championing and cultivating the human collaborative behaviours that enable tools that support collaborative interactions to be effective. If, as people/teams/ organisations, we merely swap the use of email for Microsoft Teams (for example) without revisiting the human collaborative behaviours of how we interact, then we miss the transformative opportunity. Yes, the technology will change, but at a much more fundamental level, the way we interact, the way we keep aligned on current status, the way we extend trust, the way we practice interdependence, and yes, even the way we leverage difference—these must change at least in lockstep with the technology, although preferably just ahead of the technology-change curve.

In a world increasingly shattered by difference, we seek to uphold the potential for a collaborative ethos to find a way through differences that divide to differences that unite.

Download the eBook Silverside Collaboration Framework.

The Risk of Being the Sucker

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The fear of being exploited by others – rather than the temptation to follow your own self-interest and exploit other people – is the greatest threat to cooperation. This is the conclusion from a recent meta-analysis of social dilemma games by Professor Friederike Mengel of the University of Essex. As a closely-related idea to collaboration, the willingness to cooperate sets the stage for jointly pursuing a shared outcome. If that cooperation is undermined, the collaborative endeavour itself will flounder.

Professor Mengel studied cooperation under controlled conditions, using the prisoner’s dilemma game to gauge whether the risk of them being exploited or the temptation to exploit was higher. In the prisoner’s dilemma game, two prisoners have to decide independently whether to cooperate with each other or not. If both cooperate, both go free. If neither cooperates (both “defect” which means saying the other person is guilty), both stay in prison. But if only one cooperates and the other defects, the defector goes free and the one who cooperates stays in prison. The game captures the trade-off between the risk of being exploited and the temptation to exploit (using the frame of reference from Professor Mengel), because while it is better for both parties to cooperate, individually one is best off if they defect while the other cooperates. The one who defects takes everything, and the one who cooperates loses everything. The overall conclusion was that in low-risk one-shot games, rates of cooperation are the highest. Which also means that:

  • In low-risk, multi-shot games – where players can establish a reputation for cooperating or not that can then be used again them – rates of cooperation are not as high. The longer you cooperate, the greater the risk that at some point another party will take advantage of your tendency to do so.
  • In high-risk games where the potential payoff is significant, rates of cooperation are not as high.

“What if they cheat me” becomes the rallying cry in these situations where this fear takes root, and as a consequence, people hold back from cooperating to protect themselves from loss.

One implication for collaboration in organisational life is that collaboration denotes more than just ad hoc working together. Structured and long-running collaborations benefit from terms of reference, contractual obligations, and checks-and-balances in resource allocations. These formal mechanisms decrease the perceived risk of being exploited and thus increase the likelihood that people will both cooperate and collaborate effectively over the long term.

It also sounds a warning on only building trust using the tit-for-tat approach, because while a pattern of responding in kind can be built up over time through repeated interactions, there’s nothing to stop one party from making the decision to exploit the other as the rewards available increase. Or for one party to hold back from fully investing in the work because they fear being exploited at the last turn.

Download the eBook Collaboration Framework and learn more about collaboration patterns and how to collaborate better using Microsoft Office 365 tools!

Improving Performance Across Teams: Shared Learning

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About half of my children are involved in the St John Youth program around the city, and for a couple of them, what happens in the local, regional and national competitions is of high interest. Several have been to local and regional competitions to date, and even if they aren’t involved directly, pay attention to the results from any competition that involves their fellow cadets.

The National competitions for this year have just been held in our country, and for the seventh year in a row, a team from our region has won yet again. In terms of the regions, the other squads come from more densely populated areas (or “greater choice of talent”), and for some, areas where the wealth is greater than where we live (or “greater access to resources”). Which makes for an interesting question: why does our region win year-after-year, especially when the team composition is variable year-on-year?

One potential answer is that it’s the coaches in this region. Aligned with the idea that great coaches create superior performers, I wonder what would happen to the rankings across the country if the coaches were switched around for the competition next year. Could the coaches who have done so well even with changing team composition in this region pull off a win if they were transported to another region and given a different national squad to train? Of course, one of my kids doesn’t like this idea. “They can’t have our coaches,” I was told when I suggested it yesterday. “We don’t want another region to win.” That’s quite a lot of red energy for a teenager!

Shared Learning in Organisational Life

But surely it’s the fundamental question that should be asked by any organisation that sees systematic variation in performance across teams in different parts of its operations. Why the difference? Especially when one team outperforms other teams year-after-year, even when the team composition changes. While “Why the difference?” is the first question, the second is, “So how do we spread that learning across our organisation so we can uplift the capability of everyone in our organisation to win?” This is where an investment in building communities of practice across an organisation can work so well; people share what is and isn’t working, and the exchange of different ideas and approaches provides fodder for consideration and experimentation more broadly. This shared learning can be ad hoc and individualised, or more systematic via incorporation into new and updated “best practices.”

Perhaps in competition situations, it is harder to develop this line of thinking (where top talent can attract top pricing), but in organisational life when a shared and common mission pulls everyone together, learning from the best and spreading good ideas is core and fundamental to lifting future performances.

Our eBook Collaboration Framework addresses collaboration issues among teams and communities. It provides a useful guideline to better manage these conflicts and improve the performances of all the teams across your organisation. 

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.