mission

Running a successful company requires embracing the essential few and ignoring the trivial many. Focusing on what matters, investing in what matters, and building capability to serve the customers you have today and want tomorrow flows out of this sense of what is really important. Hence we talk about mission and vision, and the primacy of these above strategy and tactics. Only once the mission is clear can any strategy and tactics make sense. Without absolute clarity on the mission, strategy and tactics are like driving blind / wandering aimlessly / going around in circles. Intent is everything.

In the early 2000s, Effy Shkuri, now the Managing Partner at Silverside, took a sales position at a staffing company in the Netherlands. There he worked alongside Roland Driesen, and together they introduced a new line of business – building and creating Lotus Notes applications for clients. A year and a bit later Roland and Effy had the opportunity to spin the Lotus Notes company into a new business, and together (and with others) they built this into a larger and more successful entity. And for the next 7-8 years, the combined team built a reputation in the Netherlands for helping clients on their collaboration journey.

But there came a time in the Silverside story – a midpoint “once upon a time” if you will – where the question of mission became a much higher priority. A lack of clarity and focus meant the firm was investing in too many areas; there was nothing that brought it together. Effy remembers meeting the team at Harmon.ie (now one of our partners) and starting a dialogue on their focus and intent (which was all around user adoption). “When is the customer really happy?” became the burning question during those days.

It’s not when you take them out for coffee during the pre-sales meeting.

It’s not when you show them the capabilities of modern collaboration tools.

It’s not during the contract negotiations.

It’s not when they pay the licensing cheque.

It’s not when the software is installed and ready to be used.

It’s not when people are attending training courses.

It’s only when the software is being used in the right way and new value is being created.

Everything else is but necessary preliminaries, but effective aligned usage is the gold standard.

And while it wasn’t necessarily a lightbulb moment – more a growing awareness and a greater viewpoint – this became the focal mission for Silverside.

User adoption. Effective use. Happy (delighted!) customers.

The successful key to learn how to use Office 365

Silverside is proud to be the first company based in The Netherlands to collaborate with BrainStorm, providing our customers with a great tool: QuickHelp. The BrainStorm QuickHelp™ Program is a Microsoft-sponsored project created to help end users, all levels employees and also managers to be more satisfied and efficient while using technologies.

Brainstorm, Silverside

By subscribing to the QuickHelp program, customers will receive company-wide access to the QuickHelp platform. This inspires the whole organization to achieve the maximum productivity, by engaging users and improving user adoption and learning.
Quickhelp is a cloud based training solution for Office365 users, that is accessible anywhere at any time. This platform provides a lot of information that are useful for all end-users (from a non-advanced user to a very advanced user.) The majority of content is in videos, that are shot (from 1 to 4 minutes) and very concentrate. It also gives the  opportunity to sign up for ‘’events’’, webinars with Microsoft certificated trainers where participants can ask questions online.

In our practice, we receive questions like: Is QuickHelp comparable to LMS (Learning Management System)?

LMS is a software program that allows internal instructors to create by themselves online courses and trainings. Along with creating, managing and delivering courses to their learners, instructors can track their progress by accessing the reports and statistics that LMS software provides.

In order to create an online learning environment, instructors need to upload all the coursers and training materials such as videos, presentations, PDF etc. Organizations need to crate and manage the content themselves, put the relevant one, delete older information and keep everything updated.

learning

Quick help stands out as being a part of Office 365, and always provides updated and relevant content. This platform, as ‘’final product’’ gives you always available content that is:

  • personalized,
  • relevant
  • timely.

In this way, manages do not need to create the content by themselves, but they have everything ready for a successful learning process applicable to all end users.

Let’s take a look at how QuickHelp achieves all these points:

Personalized content is a key for user adoption. Let’s remember when we were sitting in a meeting room with your other colleges and the trainer kept on talking about the topic and you had a question on your head ‘’ when I will use this information? This is so irrelevant to me.’’ So QuickHelp aims at eliminating inapplicable, irreverent content.
With this platform users are able to reach the information they need based on their previous knowledge, preferences and  role in the company. Silverside-zeroinbox

Why is a customer platform so important? It allows to give relevant content for the users. For example, the company accountant should probably know not only the basics of Excel but also tips and tricks that can save him time. But most probably, he doesn’t know how to create a perfect PowerPoint presentation. This is a great example about how important is to give to the users relevant and personalized content. By creating customer learning paths in QuickHelp, users are able to use the things that they learned right away.

Why is that so important to have timely content? An employee is always focused on his role in the organization and the work that must be done. As the result, the usage of every tool is not a priority. However, an employee needs to receive help when he encounters a problem or  has a specific question about the tool.
Moreover, any employee wants to sit in a workshop for long hours, waiting for the information he wants to know. This is why the videos in QuickHelp are short, straight to the point and focused on specific tasks within the application. This platform gives its users content that is available 24/7, whenever they want.

By taking 5 minutes everyday users can become Office 365 masters. At Silverside we see amazing results and so our customers. Contact us for a DEMO.

From Meeting Madness to Meeting Effectiveness

Meetings are extremely valuable for organizational life. They are used to brainstorm, take strategic decisions, plan business strategies, communicate with employees, problem-solving, and much more.

Despite being so important, recent studies confirm that today business leaders spend more time in meetings than in the past and this trend is even expected to increase in the future. Indeed, nowadays executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings.

But does actually having so many meetings lead to concrete benefits for the organization?
In most of the cases, the answer is no. Executives report that 67% of meetings are failures, and most employees do not follow the session, being instead busy with are “multi-tasking”, checking email or even doing unrelated work.
Moreover, ineffective meetings perceived to have a large negative impact on how satisfied an employee is at the end of the workday. Indeed, if an employee spent the whole day attending ineffective and useless meetings, he will have the feeling of not having been productive.  As a consequence, employees who attend a rash of bad meetings are stressed, dissatisfied and more predisposed to leave the company with such a meeting culture.

How to hold productive meetings?

 

Effective meetings

 

The first rule is to reduce the frequency and lengths of meetings.

Cutting out many of your meetings actually leads to a more productive, involved workforce. As a manager or executive, you should really distinguish between unnecessary meetings and opt only for the most important ones. For example, for brainstorming and discussing documents or secondary decisions, planning phases of business strategies already discussed, a number of tools can be used to substitute meetings. Creating chats and channels in Microsoft Teams is as instance a valuable alterative to reduce meetings.

 

Second rule: improve managers’ skills in meetings

 

learn new skills

 

Managers should improve their skills in scheduling, holding and performing meetings. The basics are: knowing when to call meetings, how to prepare an agenda, how to encourage participation and how to manage cultural differences and resolve the conflict. A part from the basics, there are other main rules:

1. Plan the meeting in advance.  Plan the meeting and create an agenda with the topics to address, the documents and files necessary to be attached to the agenda, plan the time you need to extensively discuss a topic, without exceeding the maximum time for tolerance.

2. Establish ground rules. Define rules and roles in your organization’s meetings. Everyone has to know how to behave and what to expect from a meeting.

3. Ask for feedback. at the end of every session, it is good to spare some time for feedback on the efficiency of the meeting, in the participant’s perception. To increase the effectiveness of a meeting, attendees should periodically critique it for what can be improved.

4. Change your meeting culture step by step. Major improvements do not occur overnight but gradually — one meeting at a time. Start by improving just one meeting per week. This can to significant benefits for the organization while also contributing to the motivation of employees with the aim to make every meeting productive in the future.

In order to know how to hold more productive meetings that save time and are outcomes-focused, read the Silverside methodology for smarter meetings and download our whitepaper.

milk

The workshop in Gouda was the first workshop I presented with Silverside, but it wasn’t the last. I went back again in October 2014 to do two workshops (one at the new Silverside office, and one at a client), and then two again in June 2015 (same deal – one at the office, and one for a client). Each time we had around 20 people in the room, and the days were filled with questions, discussion, and shared learning.

Each trip had its share of funny moments; yes, we did a lot of work together, but we also learned to laugh together. 

One example was when four of us went out for dinner after the first workshop in Rotterdam in October 2014. One of the topics discussed at the table was children (there were 10 children represented by the four adults), and while I was silent during the conversation, the other three engaged in a heated discussion on parenting and children. It was interesting to hear their views, especially since all 10 children were mine.

Another funny moment was when I arrived late at night from Poland and needed my new black Silverside shirt ready for the next day. I had sent one across to be screen printed the Silverside way, so as to appear part of the Silverside crew at the conference we were going to. The only problem was that Roland had the shirt since it had been screen printed in Rotterdam, and so he had to iron it and bring it to the conference location on Tuesday morning. That was definitely above-and-beyond the call of duty (my client ironing my shirt!), but his ironing skills were up to par (thanks Roland!).

Milk as a drink for lunch – by adults – wow. That was different to see. At one of the client workshops, when lunch was served, most of the adults drank a glass of milk after their food; I chose water. I’m more than used to having milk on my breakfast cereal, but as a drink for lunch? That was … unexpected, but apparently it’s the done thing in the Netherlands.

There was also walking down a road with Sasja in a car park on the way to the train station after one of the client workshops. She was walking on the right and I was on the left. As we were discussing the workshop from the day, a car approached us. We both scrambled to get out of the way, only we went back to how we’d been trained as children in our respective countries. Instead of walking to the left of the road –which was closest to where I was standing – I crossed and went to the right of the road, because that’s where you stand on a country road in New Zealand – to face the oncoming traffic. And Sasja crossed and went to the left – for the same reason because that’s what you do in the Netherlands (based on, through my New Zealand lens, of driving “on the wrong side of the road.”) We laughed about the adoption implications of this – how easy it was to revert in a moment of crisis to instinctive and learned behaviour, not what would have actually been easier – Michael to walk left, and Sasja to walk right.

So while I have recounted how my story intersected with Silverside, I haven’t yet asked the bigger question. And that is, why did my work resonate so much with Roland, Effy and others? I did plenty of User Adoption Strategies workshops with other organisations around the world, but it was rare indeed to be asked to come back again and again and again.

But in order to answer that question, I have to start the story again. Before the fake beach. And tell the story of others.

Change is the New Normal

“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are most responsive to change” Charles Darwin

Change has always been in our DNA. Yet, now that we are living in the 21st century, change has become the new normal, also in the business world as stated by the Harvard Business Review. Hence, transformation in the technologies, business practices and strategies are just mandatory for organizations in every sector to keep the economy’s pace. But transformations are highly risky, above all when it comes to new technologies and management strategies.

 

Change management risks

 

Leaders are confronted with an increasing rate of change and complexity and need to find ways to deal with it.  Change is needed, but how do organizations deal with it? Here I listed the 7 most common (predictable and avoidable) pitfalls organizations do when dealing with change management.

  • No winning strategy

Without a structured and solid change management strategy, reaching your organization’s goals will never be possible. Planning, implementing and monitoring the outcomes of the changes is fundamental to obtain the wanted results.

  • Thinking about change as a “one-night stand”

Big changes often are announced with big events, assuming that from the day after everything will be different. But this will not happen. The initial energy fades, changes are never implemented and results aren’t realized.

  • Not informing the employees

They can feel left out and not part of the change. It is important instead to involve everyone in the organization in the change process, if you want the change to become real. Moreover, change management communication need to be targeted to each segment of the workforce, so to allow people to make sense of the change.

  • Not dealing with resistance to change

Expecting that there will be some resistance to change and being prepared to proactively manage it is a necessary step. Knowing how to overcome resistance and reluctance in the adoption of what has changed is a vital part of any change management plan. People change, not organizations and user adoption strategies are needed.

  • Ignoring current corporate culture

Change in organizations is challenging and it can only occur when the change strategy is suitable and in line with the organizational culture. That is why, firstly, a deep understanding of your company’s culture is essential to implement the right strategy.

  • Lack of skills and resources

Business changes deserve for the right skills and resources. Organizations often fail to commit the necessary time, people and resources to make change work. So, if you know you do not have the skills, knowledge, expertise or human resources to implement a successful change management strategy, hiring external experts could help you to save time, money and ensuring a positive outcome.

  • Don’t measure the progress

Measuring progress, success or issues caused by the change is fundamental to track and plan the future decisions for a successful change, adjusting the strategy.

 

PACE workshop

 

Pitfall, issues and poor change management can be avoided. If you want to implement the right change management strategy passing from an email culture to a more collaborative culture, increasing productivity and efficiency with the Office 365 apps and tools, register for our PACE workshop!

With the PACE workshop we can teach you the main points of our PACE methodology: the possible culture types of an organization, the adoption strategies and the ‘tricks’ to make change easier. We offer you the knowledge, guidance, expertise and support of our consultants. Everything you need to install the change in your organization and efficiently use Office 365 apps, enhancing the productivity of managers and employees in their daily work.

 

QuickHelp: Employee onboarding with Office 365

Business @ Work report, from Okta, shows the top 25 most widely used SaaS (software as a service) and cloud applications. According to this report of this year (based on number of customers) at the top of the list there is Microsoft Office 365, as it was in the last year. This spring Microsoft announced having nearly 135 million commercial users of Office 365. This number shows that the popularity is still growing and doesn’t seem Office 365 software will drop down soon. In the second place, is Salesforce, followed by Amazon AWS that is in the 3rd place in 2018.

 

Why Office 365 is the most popular SaaS?

Office 365 is a Software that provides a great set of tools and apps and gives the opportunity to work smarter, faster and efficient. Now Office 365 offers 28 apps such as Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Planner, Yammer, Skype for Business, SharePoint.
Microsoft is constantly working in developing these apps by adding new functions. For example, at the moment there are 68 new functionalities that are being rolled out and are not yet available to all applicable customers. The changes are done faster and end users can not follow the same pace without any help. Knowing Office 365 environment and being always up-to-date regarding the functionalities you are using is more than relevant for all new users. However, this variety of different apps and functionalities brings many opportunities, but also many questions when and how to use witch app in the most efficient way.

QuickHelp

 

Onboarding issues

Newcomers have a great variety of skills, they have knowledge in a specific area and are motivated to show their value within an organization. However, in most of the cases they are lacking technical skills in using Office 365 tools effectively.

Onboarding new employees is one of the most critical cross-functional processes in a company. It is not an easy task to be productive when you just started working at a new company and it is also challenging for a company to train a newcomer quickly and effectively. The situation gets even more complicated when a new employee is not familiar with the working tools he has to use, such as software, apps and other communication gadgets and tools.

 

How to be always updated and learn about new functionalities at the same time?

New Microsoft user are constantly surprised by new opportunities. This means they have to discover and explore new functionalities that can make their work easier. The problem appears when people do not know how to use these tools, or they even don’t know that these tools and functions exist.
Microsoft have supported an amazing user adoption initiative – QuickHelp. This is an interactive platform created and almost instantly updated by Brainstorm Inc. This great tool enables new users to get to know Office 365 and the required tools to use within a company in the fastest way.
Quick Help offers a personalized account and this allows managers to assign specific online courses and other content for every individual based on their needs. What is more, Quick Help gives bonus points for using the platform and learning. By using these points, the tool ranks every user and the ranking can been seen by everybody.
Having a high ranked profile means that the person has acquired a lot of knowledge in a specific Office 365 topic. Consequently, he can be seen by other employees as an expert and the right person to ask for a help once a new employee needs an advice regarding different that topic.
We at Silverside are proud to be the first company based in The Netherlands to collaborate with BrainStorm, providing our customers with this great learning tool. Contact us for DEMO and more information.